New stuff from Repackbox.com

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I got a postcard in the mail the other day (who sends real mail these days??) from repackbox.com telling me that they’ve expanded their product line to include boxes for more calibers of ammo.

What is repackbox.com? Well, they sell a few useful cardboard products that have appeal to those of us who keep ammo onhand. What I’ve been getting from them are cardboard boxes to store ammo in.

Every so often I find deals on ‘bulk’ ammo. Bulk ammo is just that – bulk. You buy a thousand rounds of ammo you dont get a nice cardboard box with fifty little boxes of 20 rounds each. Nope, you get a big ol’ polybag or box filled with loose cartridges. 8290915400329fc2a66d65b6f89dfeaf (1aa)Great savings, but not exactly easy to store. When the zombies are massing at the barricades the last thing you want to be doing is counting ammo into little ziploc baggies and handing them to your buddies. Repackbox gives you small cardboard boxes, appropriately sized to a particular cartridge, so you can have your ammo organized, neat, and ready for the apocalypse. Case in point: a guy came into the shop and sold me a .50 can full of loose 7.62×39 ammo. I’m not just sticking a can of a thousand loose rounds on the shelf…grabbed a stack of 7.62×39 boxes and a little while later everything was neat, organized, and ready for the apocalypse.

The advantage? Plastic ammo boxes are great, but they aren’t cheap. The cardboard boxes are cheap enough that you can hand out ammo to your buddies at the range or at the rally point and not feel like you’re throwing away money. Also, inexpensive storage boxes are hard to find for some calibers. Repackbox just came out with boxes in a buncha new calibers inc. .30-06, .303 brit., 7.62x54R (better than those string-n-paper bundles you get outta the spam can), and, of interest to me, .30-30.

Although I don’t talk about it much, I like the .30-30. My like for it stems from the fact that after the ubiquitous .22 rifle, the .30-30 carbine is probably the most common rifle in many parts of the country (although the SKS may have supplanted that for a while…but since the days of the cheap Chinese SKS are long behind us….) I rather like the .30-30 in an unltralight single shot Contender carbine, but there are still several million Winchester and Marlin rifles out there. (And Savages and other brands as well.) So…I stock a decent amount of .30-30 and now have a convenient way to package it for distribution and storage.

I’m also a huge fan of he old ‘military style; 50-round ammo boxes. Repackbox makes these for .45 ACP as well as other calibers. Extremely handy.

Since I have a Dillon 1050RL sitting on the bench, I can whip out a lot of ammo in a couple hours. There is very little more satisfying than watching the boxes of ammo stack up like bricks as I package the ammo for storage.

Check ’em out.

 

Spring Cleaning for Preppers

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com Whether you are just getting started to prepare for emergencies or a veteran prepper, you need to declutter in order to make room for emergency supplies. Why you should de-clutter To motivate you, think of all the advantages you gain by de-cluttering now: Sell unwanted but usable items and get extra money for your emergency fund or for preparedness supplies.  Even kids get excited about getting rid of unwanted books and toys if […]

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Best Animals to Hunt During SHTF

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Best Animals to Hunt During SHTF Host: Highlander “Survival & Tech Preps “ Audio in player below! As with most topics we have a lot of what if’s? Food storage with preppers is a big deal and we think we have enough. We prepare for so long the amount we think we’ll need, but alas … Continue reading Best Animals to Hunt During SHTF

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Love those Tesla-lovers

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Tesla-powered pool

Jason Hughes is a happy hacker – but not of computers – he is known for leaking Tesla’s plans ahead of the company’s actual announcements, and now he has revealed photos of his own Tesla battery-powered compound in North Carolina. The 4,500 square-foot home has 102 commercial-grade solar panels to capture energy from the sun which then gets stored into a home battery storage unit composed of battery modules ripped from two Tesla Model S 85 kWh packs.

The 44.4 kW home solar system produces enough energy to not only power the entire home and all of its electrical appliances, but also provides enough energy to charge a pair of his and hers Model S each day. The end result is an elaborate home-engineered system that took roughly a year to design and build, and has allowed Hughes and his family to remain 99% self-sufficient for the past two years.

The battery banks used for storing solar energy are derived from*battery packs found from a salvaged Model S. Hughes dismantled the packs to create a stacked array of battery modules. A total of 36 modules are used in the home set up which equates to 2.25x Model S 85 kWh battery packs.

Here’s a video of Hughes performing a teardown of one of the Model S battery packs.

hughes-solar-home-electrical-roomhughes-solar-home-tesla-battery-module-2hughes-solar-home-tesla-battery

COSTS OF SOLAR POWER

Hughes says a large portion of the overall expenditure went to the $40k cost in Tesla batteries. He admits that the project likely doesn’t make sense from a financial perspective, but it’s important to understand that the value of his project goes beyond what a cost benefit analysis may yield.

Beyond being able to show that living solely off of sustainable energy is possible, the main inspiration behind his yearlong project was his father who taught him at a young age of 9 how to build a small off-grid solar system that produced enough energy to power his bedroom light, a small TV and a PC. That became the catalyst to what would become a lifelong dream to design an off-grid system capable of powering an entire house, along with electric vehicles.

HOME SOLAR SYSTEM WITH TESLA BATTERY

36 modules from 2.25x Tesla 85kWh packs
191.25 kWh (DC side)
~4,200 Ah
43.2V nominal @ 3.6V per cell
15,984 cells (!)
Inverters: 8x Outback Radian GS8048A
240VAC @ 60Hz w/neutral
64kW continuous AC output
30 minute surge: 72kW; 5 second surge: 96kW; 100ms surge: 135.76kW
Grid->Battery Charging Capacity: 57kW
Expected AC output from pack after safe SoC window and efficiency considerations: ~160 kWh usable AC power
PV: 102 Sunpower Commercial Panels @ 435W (20% efficiency) for 44,370 Watts DC
Split into 17 sets of 6 panels (3 parallel of 2 in series)
17 individual MPPT charge controllers (Midnite Solar Classic 200)

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Preppers Food Storage List

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Preppers Food Storage List There are so many food storage articles on the net. The best part is that most of them offer some great information. This article is one of the more comprehensive articles out there. It features about 30 food items and how to incorporate them into your food storage plan. It is …

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Food Storage with Katzcradul and Peggy Layton!

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Food Storage with Katzcradul and Peggy Layton! Host: Katzcradul “The Homestead Honey Hour” Can you think of anyone better to talk to about long-term food storage than someone who’s a home economist and licensed nutritionist, has written a series of books on the subject, and has raised seven children utilizing her food storage? She’s out … Continue reading Food Storage with Katzcradul and Peggy Layton!

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Why You May Need To Stockpile Supplements For SHTF

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Why You Need To Stockpile Supplements For SHTF I am not a doctor or a medical professional this is for information purposes only. Please consult with a medical professional if you have any questions or you start to take any supplements. Even in healthy people, multivitamins and other supplements may help to prevent vitamin and …

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How To Make Cheeseburger Beef Jerky

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How To Make Cheeseburger Beef Jerky You read the title right! How to make cheeseburger beef jerky. I thought I saw just about every jerky there was… that’s why I love doing this, I learn something new everyday. Jerky is tasty and comes in all variety of flavors from spicy to sweet. I was trying …

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6 Different Online Resources to Buy Bulk Survival Gear

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If you really want to stock up on survival gear, then sometimes you want to buy in bulk. Buying in bulk not only allows you to purchase the right amount of equipment and supplies, but will let you do so at a discount. Rather than purchasing a large quantity of items from a typical store, you can purchase from wholesale companies that provide a discount since you are buying in bulk. Below are some great places that you can purchase plenty of survival gear online, and make sure you are ready for any disasters.

DollarDays DollarDays is one of the largest wholesalers in the country, offering a wide range of products. While not focusing solely on survival gear, they nonetheless have plenty to offer when it comes to this department. On their website you’ll find essential gear such as waterproof matches, Mylar blankets, and medical supplies. While the options available are not as great as some other locations, if you need the basics, this is a great place to start.

Overstock – Another large company that offers more than just survival gear, Overstock is one of the most popular places to buy wholesale products. Overstock offers everything from medical supplies to camping gear to sanitation equipment to emergency power and more. All of this comes at the low prices you’d expect to get from any wholesaler. Overstock even offers free shipping to the Continental U.S for any orders over $45.00, allowing you to save a little bit more money.

Best Glide Aviation Survival Equipment – Sometimes you need more specific survival gear. If you need supplies for when you are out in the wilderness, or for anything to do with aviation, then you’ll want a wholesaler that can meet those needs. Best Glide ASE offers a wide range of products tailored to fit this exact group of people. On their website you will find supplies such as parachute cords, tracker buttons, and pre-made survival kits designed for the wilderness. If some of the larger wholesale chains do not have what you’re looking for, check out this one.

Bite The Bullet – For those of you who want a very specific product – namely, ammo – then you’ll want to buy right from the manufacturer. With companies like Bite The Bullet you can buy bulk ammo online, and have it delivered directly to your door. Ammo is typically used when loading up your survival gear, and if you think you’ll need a lot of it, you’re better off buying in bulk to save yourself some money. This website makes that easy, all without having to leave your home.

DHgate – Now, when purchasing survival gear, you’re probably not looking to sacrifice quality over cost. However, for those of you that want to spend the least amount of money, you can look to a site called DHgate. DHgate sells products directly from Chinese manufacturers and a very low cost. We can’t speak to the quality of every product on this website, but if you really want to save money, then it is worth taking a look at. Just be sure you do some research into what you are buying, and don’t purchase anything questionable if your life may depend on it some day.

Living Rational – Lastly, we have a wholesaler for those of you that are representing companies, schools or other organizations. If, as a part of your emergency preparedness, you need to order survival gear in bulk, this is the site for you. Living Rational offers survival kits for people of all ages and sizes, along with equipment for disasters such as floods or earthquakes. You’ll need to contact the company in order to get a quote on purchasing wholesale, but all the information you need is right on their website. Plenty Of Options To Buy In Bulk

When it comes to purchasing survival gear in bulk, you have a lot of options. No matter what kind of equipment you are looking to buy in bulk, there is a good chance that one of the above websites will have it for you. If not, there are plenty of other companies and websites out there, with the above list only being a small sample.

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Expiration Date Cheat Sheet: The Best Time to Replace Just About Everything

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Expiration Date Cheat Sheet: The Best Time to Replace Just About Everything How long can you rely on these everyday household goods? Stockpiling food, tools and other resources is a futile act if you don’t pay close attention to the potential longevity – or otherwise – of your goods. When times are good, we don’t …

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Top 10 Food Storage Myths

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food storage myths

The internet is full of websites that give information on survival topics, including food storage. There are dozens and dozens of books that will teach you “the right way” to store food and YouTube videos galore. Most contain valid, trustworthy information, but mixed in with that are a number of food storage myths that many people accept without question.

Here are 10 that I take issue with, and I explain why.

By the way, following Myth #10 are 2 short videos that review these myths.

Myth #1:  You should stock up on lots of wheat.

When I was researching foods typically eaten during the Great Depression, I noticed that many of them included sandwiches of every variety. So it makes sense to stock up on wheat, which, when ground, becomes flour, the main ingredient to every bread recipe.

There are a couple of problems with the focus on wheat in virtually all food storage plans, however. First, since the time of the Great Depression millions of people now have various health issues when they consume wheat. From causing gluten intolerance to celiac disease our hybridized wheat is a whole ‘nother animal that our great-grandparents never consumed.

The second issue is that wheat isn’t the simplest food to prepare, unless you simply cook the wheat berries in water and eat them as a hot cereal or add them to other dishes. In order to make a loaf of bread, you have to grind the wheat, which requires the purchase of at least one grain mill. Electric mills are much easier to use and, within just seconds, you have freshly ground flour. However, you’ll probably want to add a hand-crank mill to have on hand for power outages. All together, 2 mills will end up costing a pretty penny, depending on the brands you purchase.

Then there’s the process of making the bread itself, which is time consuming.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t store wheat, and, in fact, I have several hundred pounds of it myself. The emphasis on wheat as a major component in food storage is what I have a problem with. In retrospect, I wish I had purchased far more rice and less wheat. Rice is incredibly simple to prepare and is very versatile. It, too, has a very long shelf life.

Myth #2: Beans last forever.

While it’s true that beans have a long shelf life, they have been known to become virtually inedible over time. Old-timers have reported using every cooking method imaginable in order to soften the beans. A pressure cooker is one option but, again, some have told me that doesn’t even work!

Another option is to grind the beans and add the powdered beans to various recipes. They will still contain some nutrients and fiber.

Over the years, I’ve stocked up on cans of beans — beans of all kinds. They retain their nutrients in the canning process and are already cooked, so there’s no need to soak, boil, pressure cook, etc. You can always home can dried beans, and if you have beans that have been around for more than 10 years or so, canning them is a super simple process and insures they won’t become inedible.

Myth #3: If they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat it!

Have you ever fallen in love with a recipe that was easy to make, inexpensive, and your family loved it? You probably thought you’d finally found The Dream Recipe. And then you made it a second time, then a third, then a fourth. About the 8th or 9th time, however, you may have discovered that you had developed a mild form of food fatigue. Suddenly, it didn’t taste all that great and your family wasn’t giving it rave reviews anymore.

When it comes to food storage, don’t assume that someone will eat a certain item they currently hate, just because they’re hungry. If you stock up on dozens of #10 cans of Turkey Tetrazzini, sooner or later the family will revolt, no matter how hungry they are.

Myth #4. All I need is lots and lots of canned food.

There’s nothing wrong with canned food. In fact, that’s how I got started with food storage. However, canned food has its limitations. A can of ravioli is a can of ravioli. You can’t exactly transform it into a completely different dish. As well, canned food may have additives that you don’t care to eat and, in the case of my own kids, tastes change over time. I had to eventually give away the last few cans of ravioli and Spaghetti-O’s because my kids suddenly didn’t like them anymore.

Be sure to rotate whatever canned food you have, since age takes a toll on all foods, but, as I’ve discovered, on certain canned items in particular. My experience with old canned tuna hasn’t been all that positive, and certain high-acid foods, such as canned tomato products, are known to have issues with can corrosion. Double check the seams of canned food and look for any sign of bulging, leaks, or rust.

Lightly rusted cans, meaning you can rub the rust off with a cloth or your fingertip, are safe to continue storing. However, when a can is badly rusted, there’s a very good chance that the rust has corroded the can, allowing bacteria to enter. Those cans should be thrown away.

Worried about the “expiration” date on canned food? Well, those dates are set by the food production company and don’t have any bearing on how the food will taste, its nutrients, or safety after that date. If the food was canned correctly and you’ve been storing it in a dry and cool location, theoretically, the food will be safe to consume for years after that stamped date.

Myth #5: I can store my food anywhere that I have extra space.

Yikes! Not if you want to extend its shelf life beyond just a few months! Know the enemies of food storage and do your best to store food in the best conditions possible.

TIP: Learn more about the enemies of food storage: heat, humidity, light, oxygen, pests, and time.

I emphasize home organization and decluttering on this blog, mainly because it frees up space that is currently occupied by things you don’t need or use. Start decluttering and then storing your food in places that are cool, dark, and dry.

Myth #6: My food will last X-number of years because that’s what the food storage company said.

I have purchased a lot of food from very reputable companies over the years: Augason Farms, Thrive Life, Honeyville, and Emergency Essentials. They all do a great job of processing food for storage and then packaging it in containers that will help prolong its shelf life.

However, once the food gets to your house, only you are in control of how that food is stored. Yes, under proper conditions, food can easily have a shelf life of 20 years or more, but when it’s stored in heat, fluctuating temperatures, and isn’t protected from light, oxygen, and pests, and never rotated, it will deteriorate quickly.

NOTE: When food is old, it doesn’t become poisonous or evaporate in its container. Rather, it loses nutrients, flavor, texture, and color. In a word, it becomes unappetizing.

Myth #7: Just-add-hot-water meals are all I need.

There are many companies who make and sell only add-hot-water meals. In general, I’m not a big fan of these. They contain numerous additives that I don’t care for, in some cases the flavors and textures and truly awful, but the main reason why I don’t personally store a lot of these meals is because they get boring.

Try eating pre-made chicken teriyaki every day for 2 weeks, and you’ll see what I mean. Some people don’t require a lot of variety in their food, but most of us tire quickly when we eat the same things over and over.

These meals have a couple of advantages, though. They are lightweight and come in handy during evacuation time and power outages. If you can boil a couple of cups of water over a rocket stove, propane grill, or some other cooking device, then you’ll have a meal in a few minutes.

TIP: Store a few days worth of just-add-water meals with your emergency kits and be ready to grab them for a quick emergency evacuation. Be sure to also pack a spoon or fork for each person and a metal pot for meals that require cooking over a heat source.

However, for a well-balanced food storage pantry, stock up on individual ingredients and fewer just-add-hot-water meals.

Myth #8: I can stock up on a year’s worth and won’t need to worry about food anymore.

That is probably the fantasy of many a prepper. Buy the food, stash it away, and don’t give it a thought until the S hits the fan. There’s a big problem with that plan, however. When everything does hit the fan and it’s just you and all that food:

  • Will you know how to prepare it?
  • Will you have the proper supplies and tools to prepare the food?
  • Did you store enough extra water to rehydrate all those cans of freeze-dried and dehydrated foods?
  • Do you have recipes you’re familiar with, that your family enjoys, and that use whatever you’ve purchased?
  • What if there’s an ingredient a family member is allergic to?
  • Does everyone even like what you’ve purchased?
  • Have any of the containers been damaged? How do you know if you haven’t inspected them and checked them occasionally for bulges and/or pest damage?

If you’ve purchased a pre-packaged food storage supply, the contents of that package were determined by just a small handful of people who do not know your family, your health issues, or other pertinent details. These packages aren’t a bad thing to have on hand. Just don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.

Myth #9: Freeze dried foods are too expensive.

Yes, there is a bit of sticker shock initially when you begin to shop online at sites like Thrive Life, Augason Farms, and Emergency Essentials. If you’ve been used to paying a few dollars for a block of cheddar cheese and then see a price of $35 for a can of freeze-dried cheddar, it can be alarming.

However, take a look at how many servings are in each container and consider how much it would cost to either grow or purchase that same food item and preserve it in one way or another, on your own.

The 3 companies I mentioned all have monthly specials on their food and other survival supplies — that’s how I ended up with 2 cases of granola from Emergency Essentials!

Myth #10: This expert’s food storage plan will fit my family.

The very best food storage plan is the one that you have customized yourself. By all means, use advice given by a number of experts. Take a look at online food calculators, but when it’s time to make purchases, buy what suits your family best. What one person thinks is ideal for food storage may leave your kids retching.

Lots of resources to help you with your food storage pantry

Want this info on video? Here you go!

Food Storage Myths, Part 1: Myths 1-5

Food Storage Myths, Part 2: Myths 6-10

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 food storage myths

Specific Seed Saving Instructions for Common Vegetables

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Specific Seed Saving Instructions for Common Vegetables If you grow your own garden every year and always wondered how to save the seeds, this is your article. If you are a prepper, this article will show you how to collect and store the seeds from common vegetables. It is vital that we save the seeds …

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How To Install a Truck Bed Storage System

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How To Install a Truck Bed Storage System If you’re a homesteader, you are probably used to having plenty of fix-it or build-it projects around the property.  Hauling your tools and supplies back and forth can be a major pain, and adds a lot of time to any task.  Tool boxes can only hold so …

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Stockpiling Water: How To Ensure You Never Run Out

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 Trump & Obamacare: What Should Replace It?

Not long ago in America, the conventional wisdom was that fresh drinking water always would be available. But with recent water crises in West Virginia and then Flint, Mich. – as well as droughts throughout the country – that no longer is the case.

And what if there is a long-term blackout or a terrorist attack that impacts the water supply?

Now, more than ever, it’s essential to stockpile water for your survival. That’s the topic of this week’s edition of Off The Grid Radio, as we talk to Daisy Luther, a survival expert and the author of The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource.

She tells us everything we need to know about storing water long-term, including:

  • How much water the average person should store.
  • What she considers the best way to store water.
  • Which type of plastic she recommends to stockpile water.
  • How long water will last in storage and remain potable.

Finally, Daisy tells us the cheapest ways to store water. We also discuss water filters.

This week’s show could change the way you stockpile – for the better. Don’t miss it!

Data Storage for SHTF Emergency Bug Out

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Data Storage for SHTF Emergency Bug Out Highlander “Survival & Tech Preps” Audio in player below! The thought of bugging out is a real threat. Have you thought of the data you have and how you would store it, take it with you or use it on the road? The world today offers us many … Continue reading Data Storage for SHTF Emergency Bug Out

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WATER IS LIFE: Catchment, Purification & Storage

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WATER IS LIFE: Catchment, Purification & Storage Bobby Akart “Prepping For Tomorrow” Audio in player below! On this episode of the Prepping for Tomorrow program, Author Bobby Akart discusses the importance of water in your preparedness plans. The Prepper Rule of Three’s postulates that one can only live three minutes without air, three hours without … Continue reading WATER IS LIFE: Catchment, Purification & Storage

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Harvest Time the right time to Preserve!

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Harvest Time the right time to Preserve! Bob Hawkins “The APN Report” Listen in player below! Now that we’ve reached the Fall season, we’ve reached the time to harvest & preserve foods for the coming winter… or at least that’s what people have done from the dawn of time. Today, normal folk now count on … Continue reading Harvest Time the right time to Preserve!

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37 Creative Storage Solutions to Organize All Your Food & Supplies

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37 Creative Storage Solutions to Organize All Your Food & Supplies (FB image uploaded, but not pin) One challenge we all seem to face is how best to store our stuff. Being prepared means having a large stock of necessities (and some luxuries) on hand. It also means you need to figure out how to …

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The Deep Sleepers

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Being a survivalist, you tend to ‘go long’ on stuff…a hundred rolls of TP at a time, canned goods by the case, socks by the dozen, etc. On a long enough timeline, all this stuff will get used. Some sooner than others. For example, the canned goods will probably get used up within a year or two, but some things, like the #10 cans of freezedrieds, are meant to never be used. They are a ‘only in case of apocalypse’ sort of thing. Some other items, like the bulk AR mags I bought a few weeks ago, aren’t meant to be used but rather tucked away safely for, probably, at least a decade or two.

Items that are meant to be put into long, long, long-term storage are referred to around these parts as ‘Deep Sleepers’. They are items that are not intended to be used anytime within the foreseeable future. And, honestly, probably not even after that.

Case in point, the recent stash of Magpul AR mags. I have no intention of using them. I have enough mags on hand to handle my needs for quite some time. So, this recent batch of Magpuls are Deep Sleepers. They are there as a ward against a new ban, in case the next civil war breaks out, or some other Very Bad Thing happens.

First thing we do is stuff them away into a clean, solid, ammo can with good seals. They’re arranged carefully and sealed up in the ammo can. Once the can is closed up, I put a couple loops of poly strapping around it. This serves two purposes – first, it makes sure the lid stays closed. Second, it keeps me from sneaking a mag or two out of there when I think “Ah, I’ll just take a couple from the stash and put them back later.” (Trust me…you are your own worst looter.) Once that can is sealed up it gets marked up with the contents and quantity on it..preferably on each side and top so I can see at a glance whats in it. After that, I write the contents on a ‘key tag’ and wire it to the bail on the ammo can. After that, the can gets tucked way back in storage and…byebye, baby…see you in twenty years. Once that’s done, the records (I use Evernote and Excel) are updated. In Evernote, this is tagged as “magazines”,”Deep Sleeper”, “Storage”, “AR”, and “MagPul”. I also make a note that this is an item that does not need to be periodically inspected.

20161120_110025That’s it. Right now, as I think about it, Deep Sleepers include stashes of magazines, clothes, freezedrieds, and a few other things. But, most importantly, I know what I have, how much of it I have, where I have it, and how well it is stored. Peace of mind.

6 Ways to Stack Your Firewood

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6 Ways to Stack Your Firewood Having wood stockpiled is a must. It will heat your house if the power goes out. Cook your food, and bring you some relief if SHTF. Now, stacking the wood…. That’s a whole different kettle of fish! I have a wood pile in my back yard and I will be …

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DVD: The Quick Wholesome Foods

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See larger image The Quick Wholesome Foods DVD with 28 page Recipe Booklet shows you how to make delicious heart healthy meals from wheat, grains, beans and more using your food storage. A complete HOW-TO&; Read More …

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How To Store Gas And Diesel For The Long-Term

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How To Store Gas And Diesel For The Long-Term Everyone knows that having food and water storage is crucial for your SHTF plan, but gas storage is of almost equal importance. Until SHTF happens we will have no idea how much we rely on gas. Seriously, you may say to your self now, nah, I’ll …

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Can Prepping & Minimalism Co-Exist? 6 Tips to Make It So!

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prepping-vs-minimalismLast year we added a third child to our 2-bedroom, 800-ish square foot house. Once she started moving around, it felt like our space shrank dramatically. Around the same time, my parents downsized, and I inherited several pieces of family heirloom furniture. At heart, I’m a minimalist, and between these factors, my minimalist side rebelled. I wanted to get rid of everything we owned!

Among other minimalist advice, I familiarized myself with Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. Her ideas are mainly to de-clutter or sort by category, rather than the traditional advice of doing a room or a closet. For example, do all your books at once. She’s also known for getting people to ask if any given item “sparks joy” or makes you happy, or if it detracts from your life because you’re constantly tripping over it (my paraphrase).

NOTE: Get Survival Mom’s free ebook, “Declutter & Organize Your Living Space.”

This may all be very good advice, but along with being a minimalist, I’m also a prepepr. I’m determined to be prepared for everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios, using this handbook as a guide. With the addition of a child and furniture to my household, my prepper self was thinking about the future–both the bigger political and economic picture and our own family’s financial security. There was a good deal of “stuff” that I felt we needed to keep if we were to be prepared for any number of crises, but how could I continue with my commitment to minimalism?

Can prepping & minimalism co-exist?

There are certainly lots of articles out there about decluttering in general, and plenty about finding creative storage for your preps. But what do you decide to keep and store in the first place? For myself, I came up with 6 criteria I used to evaluate what to keep on hand to satisfy the prepper side of me and what to eliminate to keep my minimalist side sane.

Identify your big categories

From previous conversations, I knew that our main prepper categories as a family were generally: Food & Water, Education, Clothes/Warmth/Shelter, Security, Health (including mental/spiritual), and Communication. Whatever I decided to keep should generally fall into one of these categories.

Everything Accessible

In the middle of the exploring toddler and the inherited furniture, we had an incident in which one of the kids got injured while I wasn’t home, and my husband couldn’t find the right box of first aid supplies. We had absolutely everything we needed for the situation, but he had to take all the kids (including the injured one) to the drugstore to buy it all again because he didn’t know where I had stored it. This was a significant learning moment for me, because being prepared and having all the right “stuff” doesn’t matter at all if you can’t find it or get to it when you need it! So one of my goals was to make everything as visible and accessible as possible.

Double duty items

Of course you also want to be familiar with all your tools and equipment before the SHTF. One way to do this is to incorporate as much as you can into your daily life. For example, your cast iron pans can be used now on the stovetop or over a campfire in the zombie apocalypse. And once you’re using those on a regular basis, perhaps you can part with some of your other cookware, freeing up more kitchen space.

Space vs. Value

Throughout this process, I was always asking: does the value of this item justify the space it requires? If not, the item went in the give-away box. One of the tactics I used was to incorporate practical items into my decorating. For example, I mixed lanterns with my prized antique books on the shelves. They fit together perfectly!

Meeting needs, not wants

When evaluating my space, I had to embrace the hard truth that I just wouldn’t be able to keep everything I wanted. Once I accepted that, though, it was easier to make decisions based on my other criteria. For example, it was important to keep books that are reference material, or educational, and less important to keep contemporary fiction. Of course, entertainment and distraction is important in times of stress, so I kept plenty of fiction, too, but evaluated it in terms of quality and our family’s interests. So while I evaluated each reference book (and got rid of a few!), I prioritized those over fiction where space was limited.

Very limited hide-away storage

None of your storage does any good if it’s hidden away and you forget about it. For me, keeping lists was too much hassle for our current schedules, so really limiting unseen storage was my priority. Now I can tell you exactly what I have stored in the far corners of my basement today, and I can count it on one hand!

We have a few tubs of sentimental items and photo albums. There’s a set of collector drinking glasses from my grandma that I cannot safely display in our current space, but definitely want to keep. Our file boxes are clearly labeled by year and can be sorted/shredded as they hit their “keep until” dates. There are 5 pieces of the furniture that I could not incorporate into this space, but are certainly worth keeping in hopes of a larger home someday. And our Christmas decorations (which are definitely minimalist!).

My results, so far

Three months into our newly decluttered–but still prepared–home, here are a few observations:

It’s been easier to identify needs and priorities. We all have limited resources, and sometimes it’s hard to know what to get next. Once you know what you do have, you can easily see what you don’t have and prioritize these needs. For me, one of the items that wasn’t on any wish list, but that jumped out at me as a need was a small household tool kit, which I now have.

My choices are now more obvious. Once you identify your needs, you still have to make a choice about how to fill it. For example, a wheat grinder was on my list. Typing “wheat grinder” into Amazon gave me almost 500 results! But now that I had decluttered the kitchen and kept my Kitchen Aid mixer, my choices for our space and needs seemed obvious: a Kitchen Aid attachment, or the Vittorio Deluxe Manual grinder. Then it was just a matter of evaluating only 2 choices, and making a decision.

I have room for new items. Since I earned my Ham radio license earlier this year, my radio equipment has been cluttering the top of my desk, which was messy to look at and probably not the safest for the radio. After I decluttered, though, I suddenly found I had an entire drawer free just for ham radio equipment.

I have more time and less stress. As someone who reads between the lines of the evening news, there’s enough to worry about already. Reducing our clothes and kitchen items has made a dramatic improvement in maintaining the household. Our laundry and dishes are noticeably less! And now I can spend my newly found free time on developing skills and relationships.

How do you make the most of your space and still stay organized?

prepping-vs-minimalism-2

How long Will Your Water Storage Last?

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How long Will Your Water Storage Last? How much water do you think you use on a daily basis? Depending on your personal hygiene preferences:  5 gallons? 10 gallons? 20 gallons? According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the average American uses 80 – 100 gallons of water per day! In fact, over 410 billion gallons …

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PANTRY: Long Term Food Storage

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PANTRY: Long Term Food Storage Bobby Akart “Prepping For Tomorrow” Audio in player below! On this week’s episode of the Prepping for Tomorrow program, Author Bobby Akart continues his discussion about stocking your Prepper Pantry. Last week, the program focused on growing your own food and heirloom seeds.  This week, we’ll focus on food storage … Continue reading PANTRY: Long Term Food Storage

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52 Week Food Storage Plan

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52 Week Food Storage Plan This is the mother load of food storage articles, I spend a few days looking for a great article on food stockpiling plans and I think I have found the best there is. Food will be in short supply if an emergency hits. People often think they will be OK …

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Easy DIY Pallet Shelving

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Easy DIY Pallet Shelving One thing that people never seem to have enough of is shelf space. While store-bought units are generally flimsy or expensive, inexpensive strong high-capacity shelving can be built quite easily from common, cheap (often free) wood pallets. One can often obtain many pallets of the same dimensions just by offering to …

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Squash 101: Tricks To Keep Your Harvest Stored For MONTHS

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Squash 101: Tricks To Help Your Harvest Last Months

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Squash is easy to grow, and the rambunctious vines, huge leaves and colorful blooms add beauty to the late summer garden. However, there’s a distinct difference between summer and winter squash.

Unlike zucchini and other types of summer squash that are harvested in summer when the fruit is immature and the rind is tender, winter squash, including acorn, butternut, hubbard, spaghetti, delicata and pumpkin, are ready to pick in fall when the fruit is mature and the rind is hard.

Most types of winter squash store beautifully with proper preparation, and the flavor is enhanced by the concentration of natural sugars in the fruit. However, storage time varies. Hubbard squash stores well and lasts at least five or six months, while buttercup squash and pumpkins maintain quality for two to three months. Spaghetti squash should be used in four or five weeks.

Acorn squash, which are thin-skilled, should be used fairly soon because they last only about a month. They require no curing period; in fact, curing will actually shorten the storage life of acorn squash.

Get Started

Harvesting, curing and storing winter squash is simple. Here’s how:

Pick winter squash when the vines begin to die down in late summer or autumn. The color of the squash should be uniform and the finish dull and no longer shiny. If in doubt, poke the squash with your fingernail. The squash is ready to pick if you can’t puncture the rind.

Looking For Non-GMO Squash Seeds? Get Them From A Company You Can Trust!

Squash 101: Tricks To Help Your Harvest Last Months

Image source: Pixabay.com

Don’t rush to harvest squash, as immature squash doesn’t store well. However, weather is definitely a factor. Although one or two light frosts won’t damage most types of winter squash, repeated frost or a hard freeze can do serious damage.

Cut squash from the vine with scissors, leaving about an inch of stem on squash; never twist or pull. Leave about an inch of stem on winter squash and 3 to 4 inches of stem intact on pumpkins. (Jack O’Lanterns need a good handle.)

Handle the squash with tender loving care, as any cuts or scrapes can allow pathogens to enter the squash, thus greatly shortening the storage life. If any stems loosen or break, store the squash in the refrigerator and use it soon because it won’t keep.

Place winter squash in a covered porch or other protected, well-ventilated room for 10 days to two weeks. Ideally, squash should be cured at 80 to 80 Fahrenheit to harden the rind and heal any cuts with nighttime temps above 60 degrees. You can leave just-picked winter squash in the garden to dry if weather is dry and temperatures are below 95 degrees.

After curing, brush dirt away gently, and then wipe the squash with a solution of one part water to 10 parts bleach.

Store winter squash in a single layer, not touching each other in a cool, dry, well-ventilated room. Ideal temperatures for storage are between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t store squash near pears, apples or other fruits that emit ethylene gases that decrease the life of the squash.

Check the squash every couple of weeks, and discard or use any that are showing bruises or soft spots.

What advice would you add on storing squash? Share your tips in the section below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

The 10-Year Shelf Life Food That Prisoners Are Stockpiling (And Bartering)

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The 10-Year Shelf Life Food That Prisoners Are Stockpiling

Long a staple of dorm room life as well as a favorite stockpile item, ramen noodles have become a trading commodity at American prisons.

According to a recent study by Michael Gibson-Light, a University of Arizona School of Sociology PhD candidate, the instant soup and noodle product is a valuable bartering tool for inmates for other food items, as well as clothing, personal hygiene products and services.

Frequently maligned for their high sodium content, ramen noodles now come in lower sodium versions and even organic versions.

“Prisoners are so unhappy with the quality and quantity of prison food that they receive that they have begun relying on ramen noodles – a cheap, durable food product – as a form of money in the underground economy,” Gibson-Light said in a news release.

For his research on how inmates are handling declining prison services, Gibson-Light interviewed staff members and male prisoners in an unnamed penitentiary. He reports that “soups,” as ramen noodles are called in prison, have replaced tobacco as the preferred currency for inmates and that prisoners even use “soups” as bargaining chips during card games.

Just 30 Grams Of This Survival Superfood Provides More Nutrition Than An Entire Meal!

It is easy to see why. The ubiquitous soup product that features hot broth and noodles has a long shelf life and can be eaten “as-is” after mixing with hot water or as the base for other meals.

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Retailing for around 30 cents per three-ounce serving when purchased in bulk packs, ramen noodles are tasty and inexpensive, and they have up to a 10-year shelf life when stored in a cool, dry location. For many survivalists, ramen noodles are a stockpile staple.

Instant ramen was invented in 1958 by Momofuku Ando, a Taiwanese/Japanese entrepreneur, and is now a multibillion-dollar global industry. The word “ramen” is probably derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese for “lo mein,” which is also a boiled noodle dish.

The Maruchan Company, founded in 1953 by Japanese businessman Kazuo Mori, is the largest producer of instant ramen products. Since 1977 when it opened its first manufacturing plant in Irvine, Calif., Maruchan has produced its products in the United States.

“Maruchan” is a Japanese compound word that loosely translates to mean the round, happy face of a child. The Maruchan website says that it produces 3.6 billion packages of the popular noodle soup each year and boasts that if all those noodles were lined up end to end, they would reach from earth to Mars and back again.

The Chinese consume about 46 billion packets of ramen a year, making them the world’s largest consumers of the product, according to the World Instant Noodles Association.

Sources:

http://www.denverpost.com/2016/08/24/ramen-black-market-currency-american-prisons/

http://www.cupnoodles-museum.jp/english/

http://www.maruchan.com/

What is your reaction? Do you stockpile ramen noodles? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

Alternative Refrigeration Options When SHTF

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Alternative Refrigeration Options When SHTF This is a great subject. This is always on the back of my mind. If the power goes out, we only have a few days, if that, to eat all of our frozen and refrigerated goods. If you don’t they will go bad and start to rot. What are your alternatives? …

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DIY Pallet Canning Pantry

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DIY Pallet Canning Pantry This is a great DIY guide to turn old pallets into a beautiful canning pantry cupboard, so you can sort out all your jars of your canned food. Storage is always a pain in my house and I’m sure it is in your house too. I guess if you can’t get …

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5 Survival Recipes You Can Make from Your Stockpile

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5 Survival Recipes You Can Make from Your Stockpile If you’ve been prepping for any length of time, you’ve started to build up your pantry stockpile to draw from when SHTF or when times get lean. There are many different survival pantry lists out there that list out what types of food to stockpile and … Continue reading 5 Survival Recipes You Can Make from Your Stockpile

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How To Make Homemade Jam Without Adding Pectin

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How To Make Homemade Jam Without Adding Pectin Nothing says “summer preserving” more than homemade jam, but if you’re using store-bought pectin, you may be adding ingredients that you’d rather leave out. Nearly all of the boxed and liquid pectins that you can buy at the store contain genetically modified ingredients, something many people are …

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How Much Food Fits in Different Containers For Storage

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How Much Food Fits in Different Containers For Storage If you are starting out prepping, saving food for a rainy day or just have no idea how much food certain containers hold, usaemergencysupply.com have a great table that tells you approximately how much food can be stored safely in containers ranging from 1 to 6 …

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10 Essential Foods To Include In Your Food Storage

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10 Essential Foods To Include In Your Food Storage Summer is here. That means increased chances of heat waves, wildfires, monsoons and hurricanes. So, what have you done to prepare for such disasters? Well, we’re here to help you be prepared by starting your food storage. When starting your food storage, experts suggest keeping things …

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How to Calculate How Much Food to Store

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how much food to storeWhen I first began setting up my family’s food storage pantry, I was in a bit of a panic. It was late 2008, the economy was beginning to wave red warning flags, and all I wanted was to keep my family safe and surviving. I never stopped to figure out how much food to store.

So, into the shopping cart went multiple cans of ravioli, boxes of granola bars, juice boxes, and Honey Nut Cheerios. I had no idea of how much we needed to have, nor which foods were best. I just figured that food would keep us alive, and that was what was most important.

Well, that’s not a bad starting point, but over time, my  knowledge of food storage increased and the contents of my pantry improved, and I owe it all to spaghetti sauce.

The spaghetti sauce eye-opener

One day, after I’d been storing food for several months, I was looking over my over-stuffed pantry shelves and counted the jars of spaghetti sauce I had on hand. 53. Fifty-three jars of Prego, Ragu, Paul Newman’s — pretty much any brand for which I had found a coupon.

Then I counted the amount of spaghetti I had: 13 packages. How did I plan on making spaghetti as a meal without much actual spaghetti? That’s when I realized the importance of aligning what was in my pantry with specific meals planned and knowing how much of each ingredient to purchase and store.

As a mom, I do my regular grocery shopping around a menu. I make a list of what I want to cook for dinners, what we’ll eat for breakfasts and lunches, and then create a shopping list. I think in terms of recipes, not so much in terms of ounces or pounds of specific ingredients.

Over time, this is pretty much how I’ve managed my entire food storage. It’s centered around what we actually like to eat and meals that are easy to prepare if we were without power and I had to use a solar oven, like this one. Even in the best of times, cooking is not my favorite past time, so why complicate the process when planning for the worst of times with overly fussy recipes that are time consuming.

When all hell is breaking loose, who cares if they’re eating chili mac or boeuf bourguignon?

It’s important to have a solid idea of how much food your family consumes now as well as how much it will consume following a major disaster of some type. That way, you’ll know your own family’s needs are covered, will have an idea of how much you can spare (or not) in helping others, and will also let you know when you’ve reached your food storage goal.

Get started with the recipes

One of the best ways to make sure you are storing what you eat, is by doing doing just that – STORE WHAT YOU EAT! Find your family’s favorite recipes and then figure out how much food you’ll need to be able to make those meals for 3 months, 6 months, or however long you want to hide out in your home away from zombies.

You might have to make some minor adjustments to your recipes –  like having canned chicken on hand, or buying some freeze-dried fruits and veggies, but if you plan ahead you will have everything you need in case Ebola strikes your town and you need to hide out for awhile.

Some of the recipes that I have in my food storage planner are Macho Mexican Rice (been making this for years, you can tweak it in dozens of different ways), No-Recipe Soups, and various types of skillet casseroles.

In the case of soups and casseroles, their cooking pots or pans become both a mixing bowl, the cooking/baking vessel, and then the serving dish, all in one. Again, think “hard times, no power, must…keep…up…my…strength”. Anything that makes the whole cooking/eating/cleaning cycle easy is the route to take.

As well, look for recipes that are shelf stable and do not require refrigeration. In prepper circles, this is why dehydrated and freeze-dried foods are so popular. Stock up on cans of freeze-dried ground beef, store in on a shelf in a cool location, and you’ll be able to make hamburger pie, chili, or tacos in a matter of 5 minutes. The brand of freeze-dried food that I use most often is Thrive Life, but there are many different brands on the market.

For recipes requiring fresh produce, consider buying freeze-dried and/or dehydrated. Dittos if they call for meat and dairy products. Freeze-dried cheese is surprisingly good, although expensive.

The breakfasts and lunches at my house rarely require an actual recipe. For breakfast, I personally favor oatmeal and homemade pancakes. If I make 3-4 loaves of bread per week for my family of 4, I can serve up sandwiches at lunch. Leftovers are another popular lunch item as well as quick meals of pasta and homemade marinara sauce. Even though these meals are quick and casual, I will still have to account for them in my planning.

How to calculate how much food to store

Now that you have your meals planned, it’s time to calculate how much food you’ll need. A goal of 3 months is a reasonable one for more people and all too many crises, such as Superstorm Sandy, have proven that life doesn’t always return to normal as quickly as we might expect.

Also, in the days and weeks following a major disaster and the grocery stores have re-opened, do you really want to have grocery shopping on your To Do list? That stash of food, cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc. will be a godsend in more ways than one.

So, on to our calculations.

For each recipe, decide how many times you want to make it in a given month. A meal of pasta and marinara would be fine with my own family if I served it once a week. Dittos for the Macho Mexican Rice and chicken salad using freeze dried chicken. I’ll plan on making each of these meals once a week, or 12 times for my 3-month plan.

For your planning purposes, it will be simpler to assume each main meal/recipe will be made once a week. Therefore, when it comes time to begin shopping for ingredients, you’ll take each recipe, multiply each ingredient times 12, and that’s how much of each ingredient you’ll need to stock up on.

Going back to my Mexican rice recipe, let’s use that as an example:

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 3 cups water or chicken broth
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. each: cumin, chili powder
  • 1 can chopped green chilies
  • 1/2 c. corn (frozen, freeze-dried, or canned)
  • 1/2 c. salsa

My plan is to make this once a week and, since all the ingredients are very food-storage friendly (have long shelf lives and can be stored at room temperature), I’m ready to move on to my calculations by multiplying each ingredient amount by 12.

  • 24 cups white rice
  • 36 T. olive oil
  • 36 cups water or chicken broth
  • 24 T. tomato paste
  • 24 cloves garlic
  • 6 t. salt
  • 12 t. each: cumin, chili powder
  • 12 cans chopped green chilies
  • 6 c. corn
  • 6 c. salsa

Looking over this list, a few things come to mind that will make storing this food easier. First, rice is inexpensive and maybe another rice-centered meal would be a good idea. I can buy a 50 pound bag of rice at Costco and be ready to make many dozens of these recipes. That would cover 2 days per week with 2 rice meals.

Storing oil can be tricky, and I detail the problem and solutions in this article, but in this case, olive oil stores for quite a long while on its own and can also be refrigerated or even frozen to extend its shelf life.

Next, if I prefer chicken broth over water, I can buy a large can of chicken bouillon and be good for at least a year. The bouillon from the grocery store is very expensive in comparison. Buy tomato paste in the largest size can OR make my own with tomato powder and a little bit of water.

Most of my recipes require garlic and I have a good supply of garlic powder on hand already. For this recipe and during a time of duress, I’d go ahead and use that garlic powder in lieu of fresh garlic. If you also use a lot of garlic in your cooking, plant many cloves of it and begin harvesting your own.

The remaining ingredients are all nicely shelf stable and will last for years by storing them in a dark, cool location — away from the enemies of food storage. I buy many spices in bulk already and canned goods and the salsa can be purchased inexpensively with coupons.

Once I know how much of each ingredient I need for this recipe, I need to make the same calculations for every other recipe in my plan. Honestly, this is the hardest part of the whole planning process.

You’ll end up with quite a long list of ingredients, but you’ll find a lot of recipes will call for the same ingredient. Between coupons, grocery store sales, and buying food in bulk when it costs less per unit, this really doesn’t have to be expensive.

By the way, if these large amounts cause you to freak out, just step your goal down a notch from 3 months to 1 month or from 1 month to 2 weeks. The main goal is to have extra food on hand that your family will eat and that can be prepared for a time of emergency. Once you get those 2 weeks or that 1 month under your belt, just repeat the process, except this time around, you’ll be a pro!

The recipe secret

If you think about a time when you’ll have to rely on stored food to see you and your family through a very tough time, the last thing you’ll want to do is make complicated recipes. The Mexican rice recipe borders on being almost too fussy for a survival recipe, but I’ve made it many times and know that I can make it as simple as possible by using only the first 6 or 7 ingredients AND I can turn it into a very satisfying meal by adding just about any kind of meat, including homemade hamburger rocks or freeze-dried beef.

The secret to making the planning, shopping, and storing of your food easy is by selecting very simple recipes that call for basic ingredients that will also be used in other dishes. If your kids can also make the recipes, that’s a huge bonus. This article provides even more details for the planning process.

Depending on your own style and skills, all this information can be kept in a spreadsheet or on sheets of plain old notebook paper. You’ll definitely want to have a system for tracking what you have and what you still need to buy.

how much food to store

160 Reasons to Stock Coconut Oil

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160 Reasons to Stock Coconut Oil Coconut oil is magical in my opinion. I have been blogging about homesteading and self-reliance for many years now and I still come across new things you can do / use coconut oil for. Coconut oil offers a wide range of health benefits, coconut oil is affordable, readily available …

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Don’t Cut Corners: How to Identify Food Grade Buckets

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Don’t Cut Corners: How to Identify Food Grade Buckets When it comes to cutting corners to save a buck or two, you shouldn’t on storing food. If you do not use food grade buckets you will find your food will not last very long. There are ways to tell if the buckets are food grade or …

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Money Mondays: How to Get Free Containers for Emergency Storage

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com If you are trying to build up your emergency food storage, you may be concerned about the costs associated with storage containers along with the food itself.  There is some expense involved, but it does not have to break your budget.  There are free or inexpensive ways to obtain emergency storage containers. Here are a few tips: Water Containers You don’t have to spend a lot of money on water containers. 2-liter soda […]

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Food Storage With Buckets 101

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Food Storage With Buckets 101 Something that anyone who is serious about getting food storage needs to think about, because if you’re investing your time and money into food, you want to make sure you’re storing it properly. I found this great article that gives you all the information you could ever need on storing food in buckets. This …

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Budget Preps for the Frugal Prepper

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Budget Preps for the Frugal Prepper With the rising cost of…well everything, finding any extra money for preps (or anything else) can be a real challenge. How can you possibly prepare for the unknown when making ends meet on your day to day is hard enough as it is!? Part of being a prepper means …

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The Survival Guide To Long Term Food Storage

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The Survival Guide To Long Term Food Storage These are troubling times indeed with economic, climatic, and social upheavals and wild gyrations of every type in every corner of our planet. One of the most important factors towards this type of preparation is to ensure that there is an adequate food supply to last out …

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The 411 on Oxygen Absorbers And Long Term Food Storage

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The 411 on Oxygen Absorbers And Long Term Food Storage Oxygen absorbers have  transformed the way we store our food. Adding these magical packets to your food storage creates an oxygen-free environment that prevents oxidation from occurring in foods as well as inhibits insect infestations. This assists in prolonging your food source, thus contributing to your …

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Long Term Water Storage: How Long Will Your Water Storage Last

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Long Term Water Storage: How Long Will Your Water Storage Last How much water do you think you use on a daily basis? Depending on your personal hygiene preferences:  5 gallons? 10 gallons? 20 gallons? Do you have a means to filter your water? According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the average American uses 80 …

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20 Comfort Foods for the Survival Pantry

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20 Comfort Foods for the Survival Pantry One of the most overlooked items to store in your survival preps is comfort food. Beans and rice will keep you alive, but the possibility of suffering from ‘food fatigue’ goes up each meal you eat the same thing. Oatmeal and powdered milk will fill your belly but …

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How to Repurpose Glass Jars

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How to repurpose glass jars into something spectacular for your pantry storage | PreparednessMama

I have a collection of Tostitos Queso Dip glass jars that I’ve been saving for quite some time. In fact, I love to use them for storage so much that I moved them all the way from Oregon to Texas. Today is the day that I’m going to repurpose those glass jars into something spectacular. […]

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How To Dehydrate Butter And ‘Butter’ Substitutes

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How To Dehydrate Butter And ‘Butter’ Substitutes Today I am concentrating on food storage here on shtfpreparedness.com. In this article you will see how to dehydrate butter, save a lot of money and have it stored when SHTF. Butter is always going on sale at the supermarkets, take advantage of that, buy bulk and dehydrate …

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Sugar, foods, and health in prepping!

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Sugar, foods, and health in prepping! James Walton “I Am Liberty” I was sitting in the sauna today after a grueling workout it came to me. I was dripping sweat and staring the scorching ground of the sauna thinking about how hard it had been to avoid sugar for the 3 weeks I have been … Continue reading Sugar, foods, and health in prepping!

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An Overview of Making Survival Caches

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An Overview of Making Survival Caches The act of burying valuables and supplies is something that humans have been doing for literally tens of thousands of years – it’s not exactly a new concept. Most, if not all, preppers consider making some with supplies at some point in their prepping journey. Anyone can make a survival cache, …

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50 Tips for Eating From the Pantry When You Have No Money for Groceries

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50 Tips for Eating From the Pantry When You Have No Money for Groceries When do you actually use the stuff in your prepper’s pantry? Have you ever stopped to think about what is the most frequent disaster that causes people to turn to their emergency food supplies? It isn’t what you might think. The …

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10 Common Cheap Foods with Very Long Shelf Lives

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10 Common Cheap Foods with Very Long Shelf Lives The human body can only go so long without food. As a matter of fact, after about 30 days, you’ll begin to degrade in health quality without any food in your system. But since the grocery stores will be cleaned out during a crisis, it will be …

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How To Protect Your Food Storage Stockpile From Mold

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How To Protect Your Food Storage Stockpile From Mold Molds is a fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors, in walls and on everyday items. No one knows how many species of mold exist but professionals estimates range from tens of thousands to three hundred thousand or more. Mold spores can survive harsh […]

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How To Preserve Dairy Products For Emergency Situations

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How To Preserve Dairy Products For Emergency Situations When it comes to being prepared, food and water is usually right at the top of the list. The focus is generally on getting proteins stored for the long term but many of them overlook the importance of having preserved dairy products on hand as well. Sure, …

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Food Storage: Use a Magazine Rack for Can Goods

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I am quite happy with my cardboard can organizers, they have survived a couple moves and several years of can foods being stored in them, but they are sized for normal sized cans. I still need something for can drinks, tuna cans, and tomato paste cans. As soon as I saw a picture on pinterest of someone using a Magazine Rack for Can Storage I knew it was worth exploring. See larger image Universal Recycled Plastic Large Magazine File, 6-1/4″ x 9-1/2″ x 11″ 3/4, Black (8119) Simple, smart and sturdy. Designed with a generous size to keep your magazines,

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Critical Items Needed for Survival Shelters And Home

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Critical Items Needed for Survival Shelters And Home We often miss or over look critical items needed when prepping. Get a great head start today! There are so many lists going around right now on the internet and over Facebook I think I should make a statement. Lists are always down to you, your needs, …

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How To Make Your Food Stretch And Cut the Waste

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How To Make Your Food Stretch And Cut the Waste There is no denying that food is getting more and more expensive, especially if you want to eat anything resembling healthy food. Meat alone has seen price hikes by well over 60% in the last 4-5 years and people are feeling the strain in their …

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Here’s What an Economic Collapse Really Looks Like

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Here’s What an Economic Collapse Really Looks Like When people think about an economic collapse occurring, they generally imagine one dramatic event.  But a true economic collapse looks nothing like that. Take Venezuela, for example. After several years of long lines, rationing, and shortages, the country does not have enough food to feed its population, and …

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14 Foods You Might Have Forgotten To Store

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14 Foods You Might Have Forgotten To Store No one is perfect, no one will have everything they think they will need in an emergency and most importantly, no one will ever have enough food stockpiled to sustain them until they die in a SHTF situation. Alan from urbansurvivalsite.com has compiled a list of 14 …

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10 Foods You Can Store For 100 Years

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10 Foods You Can Store For 100 Years In survival situations, food is as important as water, fire and shelter. You should make it one of your top priorities. Some food products last few hours, others a few days or a few weeks or a few months. But there are some food products which can …

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Why We Should Be Using Water Bricks For Storage

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Why We Should Be Using Water Bricks For Storage I talked about these about a year ago and the pricing was so ridiculous, now their price has dropped considerably I think they are now a viable much needed product in our industry. GET THE BEST DEAL IN TOWN HERE Specs: Portable: at 3.5 gallons / …

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26 Basic Life Skills: Survival Skills for All Ages, a book series

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26 Basic Life Skills-

A major component of being well prepared for whatever life may bring is building a repertoire of skills and a bank of knowledge. If you’re on a journey to enrich your own life and become better prepared, check out this new book series by Liz Long, a long-time contributor to The Survival Mom blog.

26 Basic Life Skills is the first book in a new series (Survival Skills for All Ages) that covers important skills to survive and thrive in life. Some, such as trusting your instincts, are really the same in every day life as well as in an emergency. Others, like doing laundry, can change drastically in an emergency. A few, such as staying warm when your heating system goes out, can be an emergency in and of themselves.

Beginning with 26 Basic Life Skills and then continuing through the additional books in the series, each skill is covered first from the point of view of every day life, then from how it might be different in an emergency. Even something like having your heating system go out can either be the result of your furnace being broken or a complete power outage, leaving you with no on-grid way to stay warm and no way to use any other electrical device or appliance.

The 26 chapters are divided into 5 parts, or categories. Every chapter ends with an activity to help practice that skill, a five question True/False quiz, and a series of resources to deepen your knowledge. These resources include online articles, books, related Scouting badges (BSA and GSUSA), and videos that provide more detailed information and fun activities to reinforce the topic.

To give you an idea of what you’ll find in this new book, here’s a sneak peek:

Part 1: Basic Survival Life Skills

These life skills are so basic, almost no one talks about them. Trust your instincts. Know who to trust. Be aware of your surroundings (situational awareness). Practice problem solving and plan ahead. Dress for the weather. Stay physically fit.

Situational awareness and staying fit are both discussed a lot in prepping, but not necessarily in practical terms for regular people. Situational awareness is about more than recognizing someone trying to steal your purse or break into your compound. It’s about being aware of what is going on around you, in general, and noticing things that are out of the ordinary.

Rather than just talking about the need to move and be healthy, the focus on physical fitness from a survival stand point is on activities that can help you get fit and be better prepared for emergencies at the same time. Activities like hiking, biking, and backpacking are all fun, enhance fitness, and are good for emergency preparedness.

Other basics discussed in this chapter are learning to trust your instincts and knowing who to trust. What I was impressed with was how thoroughly each skill is covered, with examples from Liz’s own experiences and family life.

Once you cover these basics, it’s time to move on to what most consider the basics: Food and water.

Part 2: Food and Water

As much as we all want to believe we never have to worry about safe drinking water, the news periodically proves that is not true.

Learn about important fundamental skills in these chapters. Does your family know how to determine if water is (or can be made) potable? Do you know uses for non-potable water? What about skills needed to grow food and then preserve it for future use?

Now that you have food and water, do your kids know how to make it into a meal?

Part 3: Cooking and Cleaning

The first step in making a meal isn’t cleaning or cutting up the food. It’s meal planning – deciding what to have, preferably in advance. This task doesn’t sound like much fun until you realize that whoever plans the meals knows that they will like (or at least not hate) what’s for dinner!

The next concern is food safety. Food must be kept at a safe temperature and handled with care. An oft-forgotten part of food safety becomes very important in an emergency situation: Recognizing and disposing of spoiled food. Of course, hygiene and sanitation are part of this as well.

Once you have the meal planned and understand basic sanitation and food safety, it’s time to actually prepare the food. Do your kids know something as simple as how to measure food without making a mess? Do they know the difference between chopping, dicing, and mincing? Can they use basic hand tools such as a whisk or an egg beater, or kitchen appliances such as a slow cooker or food processor? I have used a whisk for decades, but I still learned something new while writing this book  from a video that demonstrates how using a side-to-side motion is more efficient than a circular one. For the many people who rely on electric appliances, this is a good refresher on basic hand tools in the kitchen.

The life skills in this section can not only be useful in everyday, non-emergency life, but should be used in everyday life. Kids may not be planning meals for the whole family but there is no reason they can’t plan their own lunches. Even kindergardners can choose from a list of choices to build their own menu and look at the school menu to decide what days they really want to buy lunch.

Anyone who messes up on basic sanitation or disposing of spoiled food may end up sick. How do you handle that?

Part 4: Health and First Aid

In this section, chapters 17-20 detail basic and not-so-basic skills that help insure safety and good health.

Calling 911 seems so basic that including instructions for it must be a joke, but consider this: What do you tell (and not tell) the operator when they pick up? Do your kids know what to say? Many cell phones automatically call 911 for the area closest to the billing address. What do you do if you are traveling?

Do your kids (and your spouse) know about family medical issues? Can they rattle off a list of who is allergic to what and how they respond (rash, anaphylaxis, etc.)? Do they know where to find this information in case of emergency? Do they know where to find critical medical items including epi-pens and insulin?

Many home remedies, and a lot of basic first aid, are so simple even preschoolers can handle them. Aloe vera for a burn, cayenne pepper for a heart attack, Epsom salts for sore muscles: These are just a few of the many easy, proven home remedies everyone should know.

A discussion of common first aid classes rounds out Part 4.

Part 5: Miscellaneous Survival Skills

Like most of the life skills in this book, these are skills most of us need in daily life. Sewing, swimming, safe knife use, and surviving without any heat in the house are clear examples of this.

Sewing can be as simple as re-attaching a button or fixing a tear, or as complex as a beaded, multi-tiered custom wedding gown, but it all starts from a few basic skills. There is no need for fancy, expensive machinery. Remember, the complex gowns of the late 1800s were all created with, at most, a very basic machine.

Safe knife use may not seem like an important skill in daily life if whittling and outdoor use are the only things that come to mind. When you consider how much we use knives in the kitchen, it doesn’t take long to see how important it is in daily life.

Other skills covered in this final chapter are how to build survival packs and how to safely and appropriately react to the sound of gunfire — a skill that is sadly needed in today’s world.

These 26 basic life skills aren’t complicated or exotic, but they are important in everyday life and emergencies. I recommend 26 Basic Life Skills: Survival Skills as a manual that can guide you and your family toward better preparedness. It’s well researched and provides lists of additional resources for deeper learning. Add this one to your family library of survival books!

Want to win a copy for yourself?

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List Of 230+ Heirloom Seed Suppliers

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List Of 230+ Heirloom Seed Suppliers Winter is here and that means cold weather and no growing for a lot of us. On the flip side, seed companies have sales on and thats whats happening right now. I have got amazing deals with some of these websites I am sharing with you today. Having heirloom …

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How To Can Beef, Elk, Pork or Venison Cubed and Raw Pack

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How To Can Beef, Elk, Pork or Venison Cubed and Raw Pack Canning meat is probably one of the only sure ways that you will have meat if SHTF. Let’s be honest, probably 3/4 of you that read this can’t hunt. Horrible to say and I know we all will try our hardest to acquire …

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How To Build A Rotating Canned Food Storage System

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How To Build A Rotating Canned Food Storage System This DIY project has to be by far the easiest most awesome way to build canned storage! If you have been looking for a way to store your canned food that takes up less space than just putting them on a shelf you have found the right …

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Organizing Tip: Bag Storage Adapter

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Since I am always messing around in the kitchen I tend to have all sorts of bits and bags of stuff that I rarely use. I tend to just wad up the top of the bag and stick it in the cupboard (which drives the wife nuts)- I saw this on pinterest and figured I would have to try it. It works, so I thought I would share it with you… Cut a two-liter (or smaller) bottle right where the bottleneck starts to form. (This could make a good funnel for another project) Insert the open end of whatever bag

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Organizing Your Food Storage For Portability & Cleanliness

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moving food storageMoving is one of the most stressful things you can do, and moving with a full food storage and all of the emergency preparations that go with it can be super-stressful. It’s heavy, often fairly awkward (lots of glass jars in my case), and well, there’s just so much of it.

An organized pantry makes cooking out of it easy and fun. We can all agree on that – but what if you have to move it all one day? I recently did, and I was glad I started off my food storage on moveable racks. And even though I’m staying put for a while now, I can see how having my food storage set up this way will make life easier in the long run – whether I move or not. Here’s why:

If you set up your pantry correctly, you’ll be able to clean properly.

I recommend that your food storage be completely – top to bottom – cleaned and sanitized at least once a year (I do mine twice a year, when we change our clocks). This will give you a chance to find rusted cans, cobwebs, signs of rodents and other pests, and the most outdated food, which will likely still be edible.

Making your food storage moveable means you can easily reconfigure it when your needs change.

With a shelving system, you can store more because racks can be tightly stacked next to each other, and moved when the time comes to rotate your stock. (Uline, a commercial packaging company, has a fabulous sliding shelving system). Thrive Life has a shelving system that makes it easy to identify the food you have and rotate it.

Moveable food storage makes it easy to set up a garage or spare room without building in a lot of fixed-position shelving. If you ever want to change the purpose of the room, your racks can be moved out easily.

Manymoveablefoodstorage of these shelving units look exactly the same, so it’s difficult to assess which one is right for your needs. There are some granular differences across different manufacturer’s shelving, and even within a manufacturer’s line, so here are some areas to consider when choosing a moveable shelving system:

  • Check the load specifications before you buy. Make sure your shelves are heavy-duty enough to handle the weight you’ll be putting on them. Remember how heavy water is (a gallon is about 8 ½ pounds), and cans are also very heavy.
  • Check to make sure the wheels are heavy-duty. Many shelf systems look great and are heavy-duty, but they cheap out on the wheels. So check unbiased reviews and if you’re very serious, call the manufacturer. The last thing you want is a broken wheel – it’s a hard thing to fix on a fully-loaded shelving unit.
  • Make sure that the wheels are actually included  –  sometimes they aren’t.
  • Some units (especially very inexpensive or smaller) are not meant to be moved when loaded – check with the manufacturer if in doubt.
  • Mix inexpensive lighter-duty shelves with heavier duty shelves for maximum economy.

Moving your food storage doesn’t have to be a nightmare

If you move with these shelves, I have some tips for you (I’m fresh off the moving truck as I write this!):

  • Make sure the moving truck is tall enough to accommodate your shelving – including the wheels. Very important: in addition to checking the height of the inside of the truck, check the door height as well. I had some shelves that fit within the truck but were 2 inches taller than the door. Not a happy discovery!
  • Wrap your shelves with stretch wrap to keep everything from sliding off.
  • If you want to keep the contents private, get black pallet stretch wrap. Remember, movers will see the contents of your bins, and they know where you live.
  • Your moving truck should have a ramp so you can slide your shelves in easily.
  • Know where your racks are going to live in your new location, and create a plan using grid paper. Then, label each shelving unit so when you arrive, the movers can put each rack in the right place. This will save you a lot of time and effort.

Useful clear bins

I also recommend keeping your food storage in clear bins (assuming your storage area is not full of sunlight). Boxes are skidded around warehouses on floors and dirty equipment. Rats and mice may have crawled over them, for all you know.

Some things to consider when choosing bins:

  • Make sure your bins will fit in an optimized way on the shelves you have (or are planning to purchase).  Check the front-to-back dimension as well as side-to-side.
  • Use gasket bins for things critters can get into. There’s a new bin by Sterilite that has a gasket on it. It’s not 100% water/air proof, but it’s a tighter seal than I’ve seen on any bin before – and I’m a bin connoisseur.
  • Use less-expensive bins for cans – the gasket bins are a little pricey, so get cheaper bins for cans of things (since these don’t attract critters).
  • For your home-canned goods, consider a sturdy, more permanent box instead of letting your precious jars go free-range (a slight earthquake, and you could lose it all). I really love these pantry storage boxes from Pantry in a Box. She sends them with a white-board label, so you can re-label easily.

So if you’re just starting out on building a substantial food storage, or considering re-organizing what you already have, please consider using moveable shelves. A well-organized food store is a pleasure to cook out of and makes being prepared a happy choice.

More food storage resources

moving food storage

Guest post by Nancy Smith who blogs at Prep Happy. Visit her blog to read more and sign up for her email prepping course. Originally published July 22, 2013.

Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation

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See larger image Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation Typical books about preserving garden produce nearly always assume that modern “kitchen gardeners” will boil or freeze their vegetables and fruits. Yet here is a book that goes back to the future—celebrating […]

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Lifestack Storage Containers Review

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When I first heard about Lifestack Storage Containers I was immediately interested on how they would work.  Living in an apartment presents challenges for water and food storage due to limited space and I am always looking for solutions. What … Continue reading

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What’s for dinner? It’s in the can

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food storage cansWant to know when I am most often thankful to have food storage? It’s on those nights when I have trouble figuring out what to have for dinner!

Being a Survival Mom doesn’t mean just being prepared for the big emergencies, but for the every day ones – like having four hungry children to feed.

More often than not, I have a main dish planned, but I need a side dish or two to go with it. For my kids anyway, they’ll need more nourishment than just an entree! When I’ve been desperate in the past for side dish ideas, I’ve looked over what we had on hand, hoping for some inspiration!

One recent night, I knew we were going to have shredded barbecue beef sandwiches. We’ve been having them two to three times a month as I’m trying to work our way through a half cow we bought. I needed a new side or two to keep my family’s taste buds happy. Baked beans and corn came to mind, so I searched for some new recipes on Del Monte’s Web site. (I didn’t have a can of baked beans in the house, so I’d have to make them from “scratch.”) Below is what I tried, along with a few variations that can be made with them. (There was one recipe I didn’t try yet, but it gave me an “aha” moment – using canned fruit in smoothies! My children love smoothies, but we don’t always have the right ingredients on hand. That will change soon.)

These recipes use canned ingredients, along with seasonings and an occasional fresh ingredient or two. Opening a few cans makes the cooking process super easy and painless.

Baked Beans

This baked beans recipe called for pinto beans (canned), diced tomatoes (canned), sautéed onions, brown sugar, mustard, cinnamon and allspice. Dried beans could be used, although that takes a bit of planning and prep work to soak and cook them. Dried onions could be used instead of sautéed onions. Instead of baking, I threw the ingredients in a crock pot on low.

The recipe ended up a bit on the sweet side, so I added some paprika, cumin and jalapenos to make it a little zippier. It was a hit with everyone. I’ll probably cut down on some of the brown sugar next time and add some bacon if we have some on hand, but now I can make baked beans from “scratch” pretty easily.

Zesty Mexican Corn

This easy corn side dish calls for corn, butter, chili powder, cumin and lime juice. The corn could be sautéed in oil instead of butter and lime juice could be substituted with lime essential oil (just a drop or two). I had never cooked corn this way and it added a little crunch to the corn. This was another hit with the family and I wish I had doubled the recipe. Frozen or freeze dried corn could easily be used in place of the canned corn. Onions, green peppers, diced tomatoes or salsa could all be added for extra flavor.

Both of these recipes are very easy to make from food storage and pantry items. They could easily be done on the gas or charcoal grill or even over a fire. If we ever end up facing a long-term power outage, I think my family and I will be grateful to know different options for cooking from our food storage.

It’s in the can

Canned goods are a great part of any food storage pantry. Canned fruits and vegetables can make meals easy when the power goes out and are easy to pack up if you need to leave your home. Make sure to have a hand operated can opener with the cans and in any bug-out bag, though. If you end up in a situation where you have canned food and no can opener, you can try this tip from Survival Life: rub the can top side down on a hard surface like concrete until the seal starts to break.

Canned goods do have expiration dates, but many people believe the food can be good long past that date. Expiration dates are set by food production companies and can just reflect the “peak of freshness.” How can you know canned goods are still okay to eat? Signs that the food inside may not be safe to eat are bulging cans, rusted cans and cans that are leaking. Canned meat may break down more over time and tomato based products can break down cans eventually since they are high-acidic foods. In fact, I’ve heard complaints about canned tomato products than any other canned food.

While canned goods may not always be the absolutely healthiest option, in times of emergency (every day or catastrophic), they can come in handy to feed yourself and your family. Take the time to be creative with the food you store – your future taste buds (and those of your family) will thank you!

food storage cans

13 Food Storage New Year’s Resolutions

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food storage resolutionsStoring food, say a month or two’s worth, is no longer the habit of a fringe group of Doomers. Everyday moms like me have an extra stash of food set away for those “just in case” events.

1. Don’t let “perfect” get in the way of “it’s good enough.” You don’t need freeze-dried food to have a decent food storage pantry. Cans of food, lots of cans!, will do just fine. Stay focused on stocking up on shelf-stable food your family will eat and stay within your budget.

VIDEO: “Don’t let the ‘perfect’ become the enemy of the ‘good’.

2.  Do your best to protect stored food from the enemies of food storage. All of these will cause your food to deteriorate more quickly: heat, humidity, pests, oxygen, light and time. Heat is the worst enemy of all, so do everything you can to store the bulk of your food in the coolest part of the house.

READ THIS to learn more about the enemies of stored food. By the way, these enemies affect food in emergency kits, too.

3.  Try a few new varieties of food from companies like Emergency Essentials, but first, buy the smallest containers possible for a taste test. With each purchase, check for flavor, fresh-looking color, and then use that food in multiple ways to see if it’s a good fit for you. My family loves freeze-dried corn and I buy it, knowing that we can use it in chowders, stew, my Mexican rice recipe, and a whole lot more. The more versatile a food is, the more value it has.

NEW TO FOOD STORAGE? Read my tips for placing your first order with a food storage company here.

4.  Don’t stock up on foods that will disappear once the kids find them! At first, I stocked up on things like juice boxes and granola bars, only to find that they had mysteriously disappeared, leaving only the wrappers behind! My kids saw them and figured, “Hey, Mom’s finally buying the good stuff and hiding it from us!”

5.  Buy what you actually like and will use and resist the temptation to stock up on something just because it’s super cheap on double coupon day! At one point I had about 15 bottles of salad dressing that we never used and 2 years later, they were all such a disgusting looking color that I threw them out.

6.  Do keep your food storage area(s) free from pests. Diatomaceous earth, sprinkled around the floorboards of your pantry area is a good, non-toxic method for controlling pests. I also set out small containers of cornmeal mixed with borax as a safe way to kill off bugs. Given enough time, a really determined rodent can chew through the plastic of a 5-gallon bucket, so keep an eye out for rodent droppings.

7.  Stay focused on buying food that can be used in multiple recipes rather than just-add-hot-water meals. Those quick meals are fine for short term emergencies, but you want a pantry that will contain healthy ingredients for delicious meals — more of a long-term solution.

8.  Set a goal of collecting 12 new recipes that you and your family love that require only shelf-stable ingredients. If you already have a good start on a balanced food storage pantry, you’ll find that you already have many of the required ingredients stored. With fresh, new recipes, you’ll spare your family of food fatigue if you are ever completely reliant on that stored food.

READ MORE: My book, Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios, has 2 full chapters that will help you decide which recipes are best for food storage purposes and how to calculate how much of each ingredient  you’ll need.

9.  Start rotating that stored food, if you haven’t done this already. This is simply the process of using the oldest food on the shelf and replacing it with new food. If you’re conscientious about food storage conditions, heat, especially, your food will stay fresher longer, but if you have food that is more than 5 years old, begin using and replacing it.

10. Stock up on comfort foods. If your kids love macaroni and cheese, buy macaroni in bulk and repackage it for longer shelf life or buy it from a food storage company that has already removed the oxygen and sealed it in a can. Buy cheese, butter, and milk powders, and you’ll be able to make that mac-n-cheese years from now without having to buy any fresh ingredients! Chocolate chips, jelly beans, and other candies are other comfort foods to consider.

LEARN MORE: Use a vacuum sealer, like a Food Saver, to repackage foods like nuts, chocolate, and more. Here are my video instructions:

11. Don’t get lazy when it comes to repackaging food! Rule of thumb: if a food comes in a cardboard or flimsy plastic bag, it must be repackaged. I have full details in this article.

12. Add a little something to your food storage every time you go to the store, even if it’s just a single can of store brand soup. It really does add up over time.

13. There’s more to life than food, so also include cleaning supplies (I buy a lot of white vinegar, baking soda, and bleach) and toiletry items. These categories lend themselves very well to coupon shopping.

When you stock up on food, you are buying it at today’s prices and planning ahead for a time when those prices will increase. Food price inflation is tricky because it isn’t always about the number on the price tag, but the size of the package and the number of ounces the package contains. When I compare cans of tuna for sale now with cans of tuna that I’ve had in my pantry for a few years, the older cans are noticeably larger — but the price is the same! Food price inflation is happening but most people aren’t aware of it.

More resources for you

food storage resolutions

Sortimo and Sortimo-like products

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During the day, I listen to ‘Tested‘ which has some podcasts involving Adam Savage, the enthusiastic personality from Mythbusters. One of the things I enjoy about these podcasts is that buried in all the geek-chic of movie fandom, prop making, and television stories, are insights into the practical side of Savage’s manufacturing skills and talents. He has some useful stuff from time to time, and I suspect that he’s a closet survivalist of some fashion, even if he wouldn’t use that term to describe himself.

As you can imagine, given his interest in building all sortsa things, Mr. Savage has a tremendous amount of small parts and tools to keep track of…much like those of us who maintain our firearms. In one of his podcasts he mentioned a line of small-parts organizers, Sortimo, that he was rather fond of..and the demonstrations of it were pretty impressive.

It’s an expensive system, and a bit difficult to find, but it appears to be the ultimate way to keep all those annoying springs, detents, and pins that make up an AR15 from getting lost.

Amazon, my usual source for this sort of stuff, let me down. I found one genuine(?) Sortimo product on there, and a lot of lookalikes. Fortunately, it appears you can order them off the US distributors website. Interestingly, it appears that Bosch is either a licensed partner or is just outright cloning the darn things.

I bring it up because I’ve been keeping most of my spare parts in the older-style Plano organizers, and while they are handy there is room for improvement. What I want is a parts bin that, as Mr Savage demonstrates, can be carried around like a briefcase and all those small parts stay in their compartment.

Anyway, it’s an interesting product, and the video is fun to watch as well. It’s an expensive system, to be sure, but I do believe that often you get what you pay for..especially when it comes to tools and tool-related stuff.

Stockpiling 101: Which Foods REALLY Have The Longest Shelf Life?

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How Long Will Your Food Stockpile REALLY Last?

Image source: Pixabay.com

Any thoughts about stockpiling foods in the event of a catastrophic emergency are dominated by two simple words: Shelf life. Some foods lose their nutritional value over time; others can become rancid or even dangerous if microbial or fungal growth invades the food. Curiously, there also are foods that have a shelf life measured in decades, if not centuries

We’re going to explore three general categories of foods that can be stored for various periods of time:

  1. Foods with an extremely long shelf life, even up to centuries.
  2. Foods with a very long shelf life (decades) due to their processing and packaging.
  3. Grocery store foods with a fairly long shelf life, six months to a year, or longer.

Foods With an Extremely Long Shelf Life

Some foods by their nature have surprisingly long shelf life if packaged and stored properly. Many are available at your local grocery store for a relatively low cost but you may want to consider repackaging or further sealing them if you plan to store them for any significant length of time. Here’s the top 10 long-term food storage champs:

1. Honey

A story about honey that’s often touted was the discovery by archaeologists of honey jars in an ancient Egyptian tomb.  The honey was carbon dated as 3,000 years old and was still food-safe and tasted just like honey.

2. Salt

If you can keep the moisture out of stored salt it will last indefinitely. Salt is a standard staple in any long-term food storage plan and is used in food preservation methods such as curing and pickling.

3. Sugar

Sugar possesses many of the characteristics of salt but here again, moisture is the enemy. If you can keep it hermetically sealed and perhaps add a moisture absorber, sugar also can keep indefinitely.

4. White rice

Stockpiling 101: Which Foods REALLY Have The Longest Shelf Life?

Image source: Pixabay.com

White rice can last up to 20 years if properly stored. As a staple of most diets around the world, it’s a must in any long-term storage plan. Just don’t assume you can buy a large bag at the grocery store keep it in the pantry. It needs to be carefully sealed and stored.

5. Whole wheat grains

Whole wheat grains are usually purchased through a supplier that specializes in long-term food storage. They are often sealed in large, foil packages and sometimes repackaged inside large plastic buckets.

The Easiest Way To Store A Month’s Worth Of Emergency Food!

The foil package is hermetically sealed to remove oxygen and prevent the permeation of moisture. If processed, packaged and stored properly it can last for decades. Remember that you’ll need a flour mill to further process any stored whole wheat grains.

6. Dried corn

Corn when properly dried and protected from moisture will last for decades. It’s another staple that provides significant nutritional value.

7. Baking soda

While it’s not a food source, its uses from baking to cleaning are many and varied. If kept dry it also will last indefinitely.

8. Instant coffee, cocoa powders and tea

If you succeed in keeping these ingredients dry they will survive for decades without losing potency or flavor.

9. Powdered milk

This staple will survive for up to 20 years. Moisture absorber packets are highly recommended when storing powdered milk for the long-term although some packaging solutions – such as in #10 cans – might not require them.

10. Bouillon products

This may seem a bit redundant with salt, but bouillon products have the added value of flavor. Most are chicken or beef flavored and the granular type tends to store better that bouillon cubes in the long run. With proper processing, packaging and storage they can last for decades as well.

Foods With a Very Long Shelf Life

Some companies today are in the business of specifically selecting, processing and packaging foods that will typically have a stable shelf life of 20 to 30 years if stored properly.

These are the some of the common foods packaged to have a very long shelf life:

  • Dried beans, 30 years
  • Rolled oats, 30 years
  • Pasta products, 30 years
  • Potato flakes, 30 years
  • Dehydrated fruit slices, 30 years
  • Dehydrated carrots, 20 years

These are great items to stockpile because you can be reasonably assured they will retain their integrity and nutritional value for years to come.

Foods With a Fairly Long Shelf Life

Some foods can last a relatively long time but it’s measured in months or a couple of years as opposed to decades. As a general rule, you should pay attention to the expiration dates on bottles, cans and boxes purchased at a grocery store. You can still eat the food after the expiration date, but there may be a loss of nutritional value. Also packages – such as boxes or bags – are more likely to allow compromise due to moisture or rodent invasion.

The World’s Healthiest Survival Food — And It Stores For YEARS and YEARS!

Stockpiling 101: Which Foods REALLY Have The Longest Shelf Life?

Image source: Pixabay.com

If you are thinking about storing any oils for the long-term, regular olive oil is a hero with a shelf life of two years. Canned goods range from one to two years, and for some foods like tomatoes that are highly acidic, glass jars are the ideal package given the tendency of acidic tomatoes to compromise both metal and plastic packaging over a period of time.

If you want to adapt grocery store foods for long-term food storage you should seriously consider some packaging solutions that can allow you to protect and preserve these items. This includes using sealed cans, and both oxygen and moisture absorbers. Keep in mind you also can order from a reliable purveyor of long-term foods and buy in bulk.

An important consideration for the shelf life of any food is how it is processed, packaged, stored and rotated.

Processing

The way that any food is processed has a lot to do with shelf life. Typical processing approaches include dehydrating, freeze-drying, pasteurization, heat processing, curing and pickling. While all of these processes extend the shelf life of many foods, the nature of the food itself determines how long it will remain edible.

Packaging

The integrity of packaging is as important as the processing. Typical long-term food storage strategies involve packaging dried or dehydrated foods in metal, #10 cans that are hermetically sealed and often have oxygen and moisture absorbers enclosed.

Another long-term packaging solution involves the use of large, 5-gallon plastic buckets. This is usually used for bulk items such as white rice, flour, sugar, salt and other staples that someone wants to store in a large quantity. Make sure you inquire about the integrity of the seal on the lid. I had five gallons of sugar in storage for five years and when I open the lid, mildew had permeated the bucket. Not a single teaspoon was edible.

Storage

Storage has a direct effect on the duration of shelf life. The cooler the temperatures the longer the shelf life, but be careful to avoid freezing temperatures.

A dry environment is also important. Mildew can permeate the seal on some food containers, moisture can cause oxidation of metallic cans, and certain foods like grains can actually sprout if exposed to moisture over a period of time.

Darkness is important for any foods stored in glass jars, and in general advised because direct sunlight will raise temperatures.

Rotation

As I’ve noted, some foods have a shelf life measured in months. That really doesn’t qualify as long-term in the classical sense so you should practice “Eat what you store, store what you eat.” This means you should eat from your food stash and keep it organized so that you are always using the food that has been in storage the longest, first.

The Bottom Line

Do your homework. Long-term food storage requires a plan that not only assesses the foods you should store, but the number of people you plan to feed and for how long. It’s the duration that makes shelf life such a critical consideration.  As much as possible, rotate your stock of foods by eating what you store. If you simply want to store food and forget about it unless it’s needed in an emergency, make sure it’s packaged and stored properly and that you know its expiration date.

From your experience, which foods last the longest? Share your tips in the section below: 

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

Survival Mom DIY: Make Pectin From Apple Peels

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make pectin from apple peelIf you make a lot of jam at your house, you probably go through a lot of pectin, whether it come as a powder in a little box or in a mylar pouch as a liquid. But do you know what pectin is or where it comes from? I confess I never thought about it much until one day when I was at the grocery store in the act of purchasing about ten boxes of the stuff. The cashier made a comment like, “I used to really like jam until I found out what pectin is made of. But I guess that doesn’t stop most people.”

I shrugged it off and didn’t reply but of course after I comment like that I had to wonder. What is pectin made of? Bugs? Bovine entrails? One quick Google search later, and I had the answer and it wasn’t anything weird that my imagination came up with. Pectin is technically a set of polysaccarides that are found in most fruits, most commonly in apples and citrus fruits. Commercial pectin is derived from what’s left over from making apple and orange juice.

TIP: Here’s a list of great apple recipes to make — you’ll end up with plenty of peels for your pectin!

Maybe the cashier got a little queasy at the thought, but it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. On the contrary, I wondered if I could do the same at home. After all, jam has been around since long before mankind had the technology to refine pectin into a powder and package it in brightly-colored boxes. What did people do before you could get pectin at the grocery store?

Pectin basics

In the not so distant past, there were two methods for thickening jams and jellies. The first was to allow your mixture of fruit and sugar to cook down for so long that it resembled sludge and much of the fruity goodness in the jam was lost to the heat. The second was to extract pectin from apples in much the same way it is done commercially today, albeit on a smaller scale.

Most recipes and tutorials found online for making your own pectin call for 3-4 whole apples (usually granny smith or another sour baking apple). But there is an alternative that you may find more efficient with your resources. The peels and cores of the apple contain the highest concentrations of pectin, so it is possible to use just these parts of the apple.

My neighborhood is in the throes of apple season right now. Apples are just ripening and many people I know are making applesauce, apple pie filling, apple crumble, and all sorts of other apple-related treats. This also means lots of apple cores and peels in a giant pile on the counter.  Don’t throw them away – use them for pectin!

How I make pectin from apple peels

Before we get started, I will have to confess that making and using pectin in this way is pretty unscientific: no exact measurements or cooking times here. Boxes of pectin usually come with recipes that outline precisely how much fruit and sugar need to be added to your jam to ensure it sets up perfectly. When you make your own pectin, you’re introducing many more variables: the variety of apples you’re using, the concentration of pectin found therein, time spent cooking down and boiling off, etc. There is going to be a lot more trial-and-error in using this method for jam-making. But, for me, that just adds to the fun.

Last summer my mother-in-law gave me an extremely large quantity of apples, and my sisters-in-law and I made them into pie filling. At my insistence, I had them save all the cores and peels. They thought I was weird for doing it, but I didn’t care. This was for science. I stored them in the freezer in regular grocery sacks. Pectin made from year-old deep-frozen apples has indeed resulted in satisfactory jam. I haven’t done a controlled study of how long you can store your apple peels in this way, but you’re probably safe for up to a year.

When I’ve been in the mood to make a batch of apple pectin, I take one grocery sack-full of apple peels and cores and dump it it into my 6 quart stock pot with enough water to cover it. Then I cook the apple mess on medium-high heat until it resembles chunky applesauce. A gentle simmer is considered better than a rolling boil; the full process will take several hours. You don’t have to stand there watching it like a hawk the whole time, but do keep an eye on it and stir it every so often. You will need to add more water as the mixture cooks down to prevent burning.

Ideally, you should wait until the liquid in your cooked apples passes the alcohol test. This is an ingenious method to test how concentrated your pectin is and how effective it will be in jam making. Spoon a little bit of your liquid pectin into a small container of alcohol. Upon exposure to the alcohol, the pectin will clump up. If you can fish out a big clump with a fork (please see the pictures in the linked tutorial) then you have been successful!

I usually find that I need to strain the solids away from the liquid before I can start testing my pectin, however. The mixture gets to be really thick – that is what you want – but it is difficult to use a spoon to scoop up only liquid with no solids.  So, straining.

I do this by lining a strainer with cheesecloth and placing it over a large bowl. If after testing I find that my pectin still has a while to go before it will react the way I want it to in the alchohol, I put the liquid back on the burner and cook off more of the water to make it more concentrated. When completed, your liquid pectin will be fairly thick, not unlike corn syrup. It can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

This kind of pectin can be used just as you would any other liquid pectin. I would not necessarily recommend using it for freezer jam, but any recipe for cooked and bottled can will do. I find that the set is usually a little looser than what you find with commercial pectin, but it’s still quite nice. If nothing else, it’s fun to try as an intellectual exercise.

Have you had experience with making apple pectin? What was your experience?

make pectin from apple peel

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Food Storage, another look!

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Food Storage, another look!

food storage roomFood storage is easy, storing food to get the most length of storage out of it and to keep it as safe as possible while not taking up the entire house with towers of cans can be a bit more work! However, since food is essential for life, it’s worth doing it right and taking a bit of time. Once you get used to doing it, it becomes habit.

My first and foremost rule to storing food for the longest shelf life and no pest issues is this: IF IT COMES IN A BOX OR PAPER BAG, REPACKAGE IT! There are many bugs that live on the glue in those packages. Pests of all kinds can get through regular store packaging and decimate you food preps. How do you repackage it to ensure long life and safety is a question I am often asked. Here is what I do after a normal shopping trip:

Food Storage another lookI arrive home with a great sale item, last week it was Betty Crocker Scalloped Potatoes on sale for $0.78 a box! I got 18 of them. Way too much for just putting on a shelf and hoping for the best. I got out my scissors, my vacuum sealer and bags. I opened the package, cut off the directions, put the bag of potatoes and sauce mix in the bag along with the directions. I partially vacuumed the bag (so as not to crush the taters) and then sealed it. After I had them all done, I took them to my pantry and tossed them in the bucket marked “flavored potatoes”. Done. (yes, I put a piece of tape with the date on it too)

I do this with pasta, beans, some sugars and rice. Simple, easy and effective. They should be good, safe and ready to go for 5 years.

11-6-15 Mylar-bags-in Food StorageLong Term Food Storage is basically the same, but I use lined 5 gallon buckets and oxygen absorbers. For instance, I got bags of whole wheat that I will use when my flour runs out. I got a mylar bag, and put it in the bucket, opened it up and added the wheat. I tossed in about 2000cc’s of oxygen absorbers. I then hand expressed as much air as possible.

I  use my iron to seal the bag almost to the end. Then I fold up the bag and expressed the last bit of air and seal to the end. I put the lid on the bucket and mark the bucket with the contents and the date. I do this with white sugar, oats and cornmeal. Most of it will last for 20 years.

I can stack the food storage tubs, which are filled with meal size packages. I can also stack the buckets which are mostly filled with single bulk items. These are tucked away in all sorts of places. I am lucky to have a dry basement, but many people use spare bedrooms, home offices, closets or under the bed space. At times, I have used drapes over my tubs and used them as end tables. I know one person who pulled her couch out from the wall and stacked her tubs, put a cloth over them and calls it her “sofa table”.

Much of my food storage is normal, every day stuff that we eat daily or weekly. These are mostly canned goods. For those, I have a rotation system like a grocery store. I put the new items I purchase in the back and bring the rest forward. The expiration dates are already on them, but if you want, you can use a marker and put the date you bought it on the can. I have learned that most items are good well beyond the “best if used by” date. If you are uncomfortable with that, then buy the items with the farthest away “use by” date and make sure you keep rotating. (tip: look at the back of the shelf in the grocery. Sometimes they have different dates from what is in front). By storing what we eat and eating what we store, I rarely have a problem with anything going “out of date”.
Protect your food from freezing, moisture and air. If you can do this, it usually is protected from pests as well.

Re-posted with permission from APN

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Co-ops and buying clubs!

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Co-ops and buying clubs
D.J. Cooper “Surviving Dystopia

Co-ops and buying clubsLast week we talked about pinching pennies and ways to save with projects aimed at reducing the costs of some of the things we need.  Another way to save money and make those pennies last is to buy in bulk, Co-ops and buying clubs.  If in the long run you can reduce the expenses of your household wouldn’t this be something you would choose to do?

Co-ops and buying clubsBuying items in bulk can be a fantastic way to save a few pennies but we also need to remember these things must be stored.  When buying in bulk a few things need some special care, for example; Perishible items.  Taking care to establish safe methods of storage for such items is critical, so you can be sure you are saving those extra pennies.

There are a few ways to purchase in bulk:

  • Co-ops and buying clubs products-bulk-buyingThere are ways such as buying clubs;  The big box bulk buying clubs like Sams or Costco.  One thing with these is you must pay a membership fee and be aware that the prices may or may not be less.  Another kind of buying club might be a social group buying in large quanitities together and splitting up into shares.  You can create your own buying club easily with friends and family.
  • There is what is known as as CSA or “Community Supported Agriculture”,with this you deal directly with the grower. Often times being a local farmer a definition of such might be; According to one I found called the “Barking Cat Farm” they discribe it as: “In essence, it is a mutually beneficial arrangement, where in exchange for your commitment to buy a share in our farm’s harvest, we commit to grow exceptionally high quality vegetables and herbs, and deliver a bountiful portion of it to you every week of the subscription term. Become a member of our CSA program and every week throughout the subscription term you will receive a share of fresh, naturally grown, in-season produce and herbs.” barkingcatfarm.com
  • The Co-Op is another, this I am sometimes confused with as it can seem like a buying club, except when you buy your membership like a big box chain you kind of own into it… it also differes from smaller buysing clubs because often times they are simply buying wholesale and there is little connection to the place where the product originated.

This week I would like to explore some opportunities and ways we can make these things work for us and ways we can store all these extra goodies.

Next Week: Join me and my Guest,  Russ Michaud from Homespun Environmental … Lets talk Water.
Surviving Dystopia Get The Book HERE!
Blog:www.survivingdystopia.com

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Create Extra Safe Storage With This Sliding System On the Garage or Basement Ceiling

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Create Extra Safe Storage With This Sliding System On the Garage or Basement Ceiling Create extra space pretty much anywhere with this great easy to do tutorial. If your garage or basement  is running out of space, try building this overhead storage system. The construction is simple and fast, and the whole system is made …

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8 Tips For Placing Your First Survival Food Order

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survival food
I’ll never forget my first, official order for survival food. My friend,  Chrystalyn, was a pro at this, and she guided me through a bewildering order form with products and container sizes I didn’t recognize.
A #10 can? What was that?
A #2.5 can? Is that what I need or is the #10 size better?
What is wheat germade and will my kids eat what I’m buying since it’s not in name-brand cans?

Survival Food Ordering Made Easy

If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have ordered wheat germade at all and would have ordered far more #2.5 cans of cocoa! Yes, we prefer brownies to hot cereal!

From years of experience, I pass on to you a few simple ways to determine what to order from survival food companies, such as Augason Farms, Thrive Life, and Emergency Essentials.

My 8 Tips For Placing Your First Survival Food Order

1. What produce do you use most often in the kitchen? Jot down the fruits and vegetables that you typically buy at the grocery store. Those will be the best choices for your early purchases, since you know they won’t go to waste, and you use recipes that incorporate them.
2. What are a few of your favorite recipes? It’s a good idea to stock up on those ingredients. Example: a hearty pasta and sausage dinner recipe. You could buy sausage crumbles, Italian herbs, dehydrated onions, freeze dried mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and macaroni. Of course you can use some of those same ingredients in other recipes, and that versatility is great.
3. Consider the staples you use most often: sugar, baking powder, herbs, etc. and then compare the food company’s prices to what you typically pay at a grocery store. Keep in mind that these products will be packaged for long term storage unlike those purchased at grocery stores. That is a big bonus. When we moved to a humid environment, several of my cardboard containers of salt were ruined.
TIP: Which size should you choose when shopping for these foods? Here is a link to my complete answer to that question.
4. Keep in mind the importance of snacks. My kids love the yogurt bites in all the various flavors. Perhaps order a few snack items in either the pouch or #2.5 can sizes to try these out. The smaller containers are also good for emergency kits.
5. Do you have some just-add-water meals for emergencies or power outages? Each company has their own varieties to try out. Make sure you give them a taste test, though, before buying in large containers or quantities. They’re lightweight, nutritious, and if you can manage to boil 3 or 4 cups of water, you have a meal in about 15 minutes.
6. When it comes to the various types of meat and poultry, which do you use most often? Prioritize those and then buy smaller containers of the ones you tend to buy and use most frequently. Give them a try in some of your recipes. If you really like the flavor, texture, and convenience, then you’ll know what to stock up on. As always, customize this to your preferences and the recipes you make most often.
7. You’ll need some meal-stretchers, such as rice, small pasta, certain grains, and beans. I like this category because these foods are versatile on their own, but then, when added to a casserole or soup, they help provide many more servings, as well as more nutrition and fiber.
8. Stock up on ingredients for soup. You may not make soup very often, but it’s an ideal recipe for survival scenarios. The concept is simple (start with a broth of some kind) and then add whatever is handy. Have a balance of veggies, proteins, and grains, and you’re good to go.

All About Wheat: A Tutorial

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All About Wheat: A Tutorial via The Survival MomI get a lot of questions about the types of wheat and grains I use in my own cooking and food storage.  Today I have some basic information for you about wheat, but each Friday I’ll be featuring other grains, like oat groats, kamut and quinoa, and how to use them.  Subscribe to TheSurvivalMom blog so you don’t miss anything!

There are three types of wheat I use most often around my house.

Hard wheat

This is your basic bread flour.  You can get both hard red wheat and hard white wheat.  Both have a high gluten and protein content that’s necessary to give both elasticity and strength to your bread dough.  Hard white wheat is lighter in color and flavor than hard red wheat.  Hard red wheat is what most people think of when they think of a hearty loaf of whole wheat bread.  It gives bread a strong wheat flavor and is darker in color.  Red wheat is a little harder for the body to digest than white wheat.  Which one you use is just a matter of preference.

Soft wheat

Soft wheat is all-purpose flour.  Sometimes it’s called pastry wheat.  It’s used to bake everything except bread.  Lower in both protein and gluten, it allows for a much lighter baked product than hard wheat.  Whether you’re baking cookies, pie crust, or biscuits, soft wheat is the wheat to use.  If you’ve been using store bought all-purpose flour, just replace the flour with ground soft white wheat in any recipe.

Durum wheat

Durum wheat is also known as semolina.  It’s the hardest wheat of all and is used for making pasta.  I store durum wheat because of it’s long shelf life of 30+ years versus the shelf life of store bought pasta, two years or so.  Large #10 cans of pasta purchased from a company such as Walton Feed will last up to 20 years if properly stored.

I store a larger quantity of whole grains than flour because of shelf life.  White, all-purpose flour has a shelf life of 5-10 years, but whole wheat, when stored in air-tight containers, has a shelf life of 30+ years.

For those of you who have been considering storing wheat as part of your long-term food storage, I would suggest starting with small quantities of both soft and hard wheat   Before making a big investment in 45 lb. buckets, find a grocery store in your area that sells these wheats in bulk.  Buy a couple of pounds of each, grind it, and bake up some goodies to see what you prefer.  If you do purchase wheat in those big buckets, 45 lbs. of hard wheat will yield at least 50 loaves of bread.  Happy baking!

Helpful resources for you

“3 Things to Make With Wheat Besides Bread”

“Find a Local Wheat Source and Stock Up”

Hard Red Wheat (non-GMO)

Hard White Wheat (non-GMO)

“When It Comes to Wheat, Don’t Feed Your Family Poison”

The Wondermill Junior — A Review

 

All About Wheat: A Tutorial via The Survival Mom

Liquid Gold or Liquid Death: Liquid Fuel Safety

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Liquid FuelWhether it is used to power a vehicle, run a generator, or fuel a lantern, few people escape the need to buy and store liquid fuels like gasoline, kerosene or diesel. In normal times, we have easy access to fuel at the gas station, and safety is taken for granted. But are you aware of the potential dangers of liquid fuels, and how to mitigate the hazards? If not, please read on!

Liquid Fuel vs. Pressurized Gas Fuel

The two most common fuels important to people preparing for emergencies are gasoline, which is liquid at room temperature, and propane, which is used as a gas at room temperature. Other liquid fuels include diesel fuel, a denser, oily fuel popular in trucks and generators, and “white gas,” a petroleum fuel related to gasoline but used in the popular Coleman and other brand camping stoves and lanterns. Unlike pressurized gas fuels, petroleum liquid fuels have a limited shelf life; they separate into their component chemicals over time and become unusable.

While natural gas has more widespread use in home heating and cooking, it is used less in rural areas because of the extensive piping needed to distribute it. Where it is available, it is cheaper and easier to use than propane. Natural gas is lighter than air, and thus disperses more easily than propane which is heavier than air.

Propane, also known as LPG (Liquefied Propane Gas) is used for heating and cooking in mostly rural areas where natural gas is not available and is stored in large tanks at the user’s home or business. Periodically, the propane tank is refilled by a mobile propane truck.

Propane has the advantage of portability, available in consumer-sized portable containers including the popular 20 lb. tank used for barbecue grills and a small 16 ounce tank used for lanterns and small barbecues.

Gasoline lantern

Liquid-fueled lantern

Why are Liquid Fuels Special?

Gaseous fuels like natural gas and propane are kept under pressure, and require a closed system (tank-to-hose-to-tank) that prevents loss of fuel during transfer from one tank to another. Usually a trained technician is needed to refill a propane tank. In normal times, there’s no problem, but during a disaster, this characteristic can be problematic.

On the other hand, all of us have filled up our car’s tank at the gas station. No thought required, you pay for the fuel and put the nozzle in your tank. You don’t see the safety measures engineered into the dispensing system; accidents are few. If you follow a few basic safety principles, you can safely store significant amounts of gasoline as part of your preparedness strategy.

Convenience Can Have a Cost

Gasoline’s value as a fuel is its volatility, or its characteristic of rapidly changing from a liquid to a gas. Even in freezing temperatures, an open container of gasoline quickly produces vapor that is extremely flammable. In hot temperatures, gasoline vapor can create outward pressure on a container, and if the cap isn’t tight vapor can escape; in extreme cases, the pressure can rupture the container. In the worst case, a burst gasoline container can ignite, resulting in an explosion. I have seen estimates of the explosive power of a gallon of gasoline equivalent to 20-60 sticks of dynamite.

Gasoline vapor is heavier than air, and so like water settles to the lowest possible point. Accidental ignition of the vapor will flash back to the container and ignite the remaining gas. As a result, one should NEVER store gasoline in any amount in a dwelling or garage with a potential ignition source like a water heater pilot light. Static electricity is another hazard; containers should be on the ground when pouring to safely avoid static sparks.

Less volatile fuels like diesel are easier to store than gasoline. While gallon for gallon diesel has more energy than gasoline, it has a higher ignition temperature and isn’t as volatile.

Safer Storage

Not surprisingly, the best container to store gasoline is called a “Safety Can.” These 5-gallon cans are built to prevent rupture, and have a spring-loaded seal instead of a screw-on cap. The seal keeps the gasoline vapors securely inside, and a spark arrestor screen prevents the contents from igniting from a flash back. In the event of a fire outside of the Safety Can, the seal will vent gasoline vapor that builds up inside, preventing a catastrophic explosion.

A Type I Safety Can (pictured) is just for storage, you’ll need a funnel to pour out the gasoline. It’s also the least expensive of the Safety Cans, available on ebay for about $40.00 each. Type II Safety Cans add a flexible spout to make refueling easier, and are about $60.00 each. Reputable brands include Justrite and Eagle.

Type I Safety Can

Gasoline Safety Can

While it seems like a lot of money to invest, the Safety Cans have a 10-year warranty and are well-constructed. In addition to their use in your plans, 5 gallons of gasoline or diesel would be a terrific barter item in an emergency for something else you need.

Liquid Fuels Have an Expiration Date

If you decide to store gasoline or diesel, you have to plan a rotation schedule, as they both will start to decompose within several months. Using old fuel in an engine will cause major problems in short order. You can extend their life with a fuel stabilizer like STA-BIL, but ultimately if you don’t use it you’ll lose it.

Let’s say you store 8 five-gallon cans of gasoline, for a total of 40 gallons. Number the cans 1 through 8, and each week empty one of the cans into your car or other gasoline-powered equipment and refill the can. Mark this on a calendar and it becomes automatic; in two months, you’ve rotated your gasoline stock without too much trouble.

To sum up, you’d be crazy not to include some fuel storage in your preparedness plans. Just be sure you do it safely, and that you can rely on it when you need it.

storing liquid fuel

Freeze-Dried Cheese: A Tutorial

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freeze dried cheeseCheese is one of those staples that many of us have difficulty doing without. It’s used as a key ingredient in lots of things, from cheese and crackers to tacos and casseroles. Unfortunately, the kind of cheese we tend to buy from the grocery store in shrink-wrapped blocks is not made for long-term storage, which is a major problem for those of us who like to plan far ahead.

Some recommend taking your cheddar out of the plastic wrapping to wax it and then leave it at room temperature, but this is controversial because the moisture content of softer cheeses — meaning anything that’s not rock-hard, like Parmesan — can cause the cheese to go rancid, or worse.

Luckily, science has given us freeze-dried cheese to solve just this problem! It may look pricey, but it’s well worth the cost, simply because of its remarkable shelf stability, flavor, and the fact that when rehydrated, it tastes and melts exactly like fresh cheese.

Unopened in the can, it has a shelf-life of 20 years. Manufacturers recommend that it be used within a year after opening. Compare this to regular cheese, which goes “iffy” if you leave it out of the fridge for a while and grows mold after a couple of weeks even when refrigerated.

Don’t be put off by the idea of “cheese in a can”. This isn’t that suspicious “cheese” mix that you put on macaroni. This is actual cheese. Freeze-dried cheese can genuinely be used any way you use regular grated cheese. And the best part is that it comes in several varieties, so you’ll be equipped to make lasagna with mozzarella, enchiladas with cheddar, and quesadillas with Monterey Jack!

I’ve been known to snack on it directly from the can. Tastes a lot like Cheez-It crackers!

How is freeze dried cheese made?

Before the late 2000’s, I only associated freeze-dried items with the “astronaut food” packets you can purchase in science museum gift shops: fun, weird, but not terribly practical for regular people. Today, however, freeze-dried foods are a food storage staple. (Read about the history of freeze-drying here.)

Regular freezing causes ice crystals to form within the food, which can damage the texture, color, flavor, and nutrients of the food. Think, if you will, about frozen strawberries in the frozen food section and how sad they look once they are thawed. In contrast, freeze-dried food is flash frozen so quickly that ice crystals do not have time to form, which preserves texture, structure and taste. From there, the frozen food is placed in a vacuum. This allows for sublimation, so that the water molecules evaporate off; the water goes from solid to a gas without passing through the liquid state. The end result is cheese that looks, smells, and behaves like cheese when used for cooking.

What can you do with freeze dried cheese?

Just about anything! I’ve made pizza, quesadillas, used it with tacos, and have made all kinds of casseroles with freeze-dried cheese. No one in my family noticed any difference, not even my picky toddler. I wouldn’t recommend using it for fresh eating, as with crackers or in a cold cut sandwich, but only for reasons of convenience: it’s pre-shredded, and thus carries the danger of falling off the cracker.

Pizza is one of the most popular items to make with freeze-dried cheese. This recipe uses a tortilla as the crust, which makes for a quick and easy meal.

Ingredients

6 Soft-Taco size flour tortillas
1 t. dried basil
1 t. oregano
1/4 t. garlic powder
1 T. clarified butter
3/4 cup Freeze Dried Mozzarella Cheese 
1/2 cup freeze dried turkey, freeze dried chicken or freeze dried ham*
1 cup freeze dried green pepper, diced*
3/4 cup freeze dried tomato chunks*

Instructions

Rehydrate ingredients according to directions on can.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Combine basil, oregano, garlic powder, and olive oil in a small bowl. Lightly brush one side of tortilla with mixture. Sprinkle equal amounts of meat, green pepper, and tomatoes on each tortillas.

Top with cheese, place on middle rack of the oven and bake for 8 minutes or until crisp.

*Fresh versions, using the same amounts, can be used instead of freeze-dried.

freeze dried cheese

…and we’re back…News from Rich and SurvivalRing…

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Hi folks, It’s been a while since my last post, although I’ve been in the backroom of SurvivalRing every day for months, keeping things tuned, tight, backed up, and secure. I’ve thought about posting a lot of things, and often I was poised and ready to add my thoughts to the blog, and at the […]

12 year shelf life verified for Mountain House Food Storage

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Research Shows 12 year shelf life

Albany, OR (PRWEB) October 06, 2014

12 year shelf lifeNew testing by the Sensory Science Laboratory at Oregon State University has found the food pouches of Mountain House, the leading provider of freeze dried foods for outdoor recreation and long-term storage, offer a 20-percent longer shelf life than previously verified. The third-party testing, which Mountain House commissions on a regular basis to ensure their rigorous standards are met, showed a 12-year shelf life, compared to the 10-year shelf life previous testing had proved in 2012.

This represents the longest independently verified shelf life in the industry.

“Shelf life remains one of the most important variables in the emergency preparedness market, and we are continually looking to provide our consumers with the most up-to-date information on our products, backed by unbiased third-party testing,” said Reiner Bohlen, marketing manager at Mountain House. “Other companies may claim to offer pouches of food with longer shelf lives, but they fail to provide independent testing to substantiate those claims.”

For those looking to Mountain House for emergency preparedness or other long-term food storage needs, the brand’s food packaged in #10 cans offers a verified 25-year shelf life and has been a popular choice for decades. This latest testing on Mountain House foods packaged in proprietary pouches shows them to be another viable option for long-term storage. The pouches also provide greater variety, easier storage, and more convenient serving sizes.

To conduct the testing, the OSU Sensory Science Laboratory evaluated foods from Mountain House pouches archived 12 years ago and compared the results to the same recipes packaged this year. The testing found with a 99.9% confidence level that there is not a significant difference in taste between the current pouches of food and those that are aged 12 years.

“We know the emergency preparedness community takes great care in storing food. After all, the health, well-being, and comfort of their families depends on it”,” said Bohlen. “At Mountain House, we take the same care in creating our meals. We also have the most conservative definition of shelf life in the industry: virtually indistinguishable from new production. We want people to trust that in an emergency, they’ll be able to turn to Mountain House products for reliable, great-tasting and nutritious foods, on day one or year 12.”

Oregon Freeze Dry, the makers of Mountain House, has a long history of excellence in the freeze-dried foods industry, pioneering the necessary technology and processes for over 50 years. As part of a rigorous, ongoing quality assurance program, Mountain House regularly tests its own archived products rather than making assumptions based on “accelerated aging” or testing of other types of food. More information on Mountain House’s efforts in this area can be found on its website.

We carry a large selection of Mountain House Food Storage

http://www.directive21.com/product-category/mountain-house-food-storage/

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National Preparedness Month is September!

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National Preparedness Month is Here.

National Preparedness MonthIf you haven’t recently, now might be a good time to access your overall preparedness during National Preparedness Month.  With so many reasons to have some of the essentials you’ll need on a daily basis at your disposal, it makes sense to take some time to do a needs assessment.  Unfortunately, this is something we should all be doing on a regular basis and not just in September.  But for those who are fairly new to self reliance and preparedness it’s a start.

Most of the time “Preppers” are not thought of as anything more than crazy people preparing for the end of the world by the media as we have seen on television.  However, being prepared or prepping is not defined by “Doomsayers” but actually includes over 3 million Americans from all walks of life and from every corner of the country.  Why is this you might ask?  There are a few good reasons that prepping is growing and it has mostly to do with living a more sustainable lifestyle and getting back to basics while realizing the government isn’t going to be there to help  when a major disaster strikes.

Amazingly, according to a new survey conducted by the Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation, 55 percent of Americans believe that the authorities will come to their rescue when disaster strikes. We have news for you,  FEMA is not going to come to anyones rescue anytime soon if disaster strikes.  If we think back to Hurricane Katrina of any other natural disaster in recent memory, or consider some of the potential scenarios including a major financial collapse, It’s time to get prepared so you can take care of your own family if need be.

So what are just few of the things you and your family can start to do today?  We compiled a short basic list to help you to start to get your “Preparedness”  house in order.

Air> Air is the most important thing we need to survive.  It is said that you can live “four minutes without air, four days without water, and forty days without food.”  So, are you CPR certified?  Can you help someone if they stopped breathing? If not get certified.  Here is how to get certified 

Water > Water is an essential to have on hand.  30 gallons per person (2 gallons per person per day for 1 week). This might sound excessive, but look at your water bill this month! This figure assumes that when at home, you will occasionally want a sponge bath, or to cook something like pasta or rice. You might even wash your hair or clothes, and will eventually flush a toilet. Large food grade 55 gallon plastic drums are ideal for bulk water storage. A good location is in your detached garage. Remember that your water heater in the house is typically 50 gallons, and may be used if your dwelling survives. Additional water may be purchased in single use plastic bottles, and should be stored away from the house or garage. Remember that these water bottles will need to be rotated out since they have a limited shelf life unless water treatment is used.  A portable water filtration system is a must.  These systems can provide a very high quality of clean fresh water.  A good water test kit is also recommended so you can evaluate your stored water on an on-going basis.

Shelter > Where would you go if a disaster struck and left you without your home?    FEMA recommends that you know that information now as well as some other important evacuation routes in your area. Do you have a temporary shelter at home that you could use if needed?  If not get one and keep it dry and easy to get too.

Fire > We have all seen survival television shows and each and every time lighting a fire is paramount to survival over the long haul.  We may need it to keep warm, to cook, to disinfect water, for light and protection.  Can you light a fire if needs be?  How to build a fire so it will light – survival 101

Food > If you’re considering a food storage system at your home, than a food storage calculator is going to be required so you have the right amount to meet your families needs. The type of food you store can vary but it might include canned foods long term food storage systems to MRE’s, grains, legumes and alike canned fruits and veggies from your own garden.  Cooking and heating tools for survival incase of a disaster or emergency are easy to use and not very expensive to get.  Wondering how much grain to store? You might be surprised.  Read more at http://www.preparednesspro.com/do-you-have-enough#u1fS0AHFwQfYJ2vg.99

First Aid Kit > A good first aid kit could save a life during a disaster  Make sure you have a good one.   Off Grid Survival recommends “30 Things you Should Have in Your Medical First Aid Kits

Survival Kit > A survival kit is a short term kit of essentials to last you approx three days.  It can be kept in your car incase you get stranded in an emergency. > Learn more

BOB or Bug Out Bag > A Bug Out Bag is more of a long term survival kit designed to help you get out of town or “bug out”.  It would include all of the above mentioned items to a greater or lesser degree plus much more.  Some examples of items included might be weapons, shelter and bedding, clothing, a heat source and tools to name a few.  A good example can be found right here.

 

There is so much more that you can do to get your self prepared both in the short and long term but this will be a good start.  Remember the Internet is a great source of information on all things “Preparedness”.

If you start today you will be better off than most Americans are in case of a natural disaster or National emergency.

Follow our Facebook page for more info on all things preparedness.

Thanks,

Jeff “The Berkey Guy”

 

Sources:

http://scoutingrediscovered.com/scout-skills/the-scouts-guide-to-survival-the-big-5/
http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/55-percent-of-americans-believe-that-the-government-will-take-care-of-them-if-disaster-strikes
http://theepicenter.com/howto.html
http://www.preparednesspro.com/do-you-have-enough#u1fS0AHFwQfYJ2vg.99
http://www.bhs.idaho.gov/pages/Preparedness/PDF/Disaster_Preparedness_Kit_Supply_List.pdf
http://www.directive21.com/
http://offgridsurvival.com/30-things-you-should-have-in-your-medical-kits/
http://www.preparednesspro.com/do-you-have-enough
http://www.isu.edu/outdoor/survkit.htm
http://bugoutbagacademy.com/free-bug-out-bag-list/
http://www.philly.com/philly/health/HealthDay666756_20120720_Many_Americans_Not_Prepared_for_Disasters__Poll.html?cmpid=138896554
http://graywolfsurvival.com/2810/build-fire-basics/

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Japanese Govt Urges Citizens to Stockpile One Month Toilet Paper Supply

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A bizarre approach to dispensing toilet paper.

A bizarre approach to dispensing toilet paper – sighted at a rest stop somewhere between SD and MN.

A little known side effect of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant problems in Japan was a shortage of toilet paper that affected the entire country.

Japan has had toilet paper shortages before, back in the oil crisis of 1973 (you never thought that expensive and scarce oil would create a toilet paper shortage, did you!) and so the nation has become particularly sensitized to the potential of future shortages.  As a result, the Japanese government is now urging the public to stockpile toilet paper, and has even arranged for a special type of toilet paper roll (without the inner cardboard sleeve) that allows more toilet paper to be stored in less space.  You can read more about their public promotional campaign here.

We see two interesting things about this.  The first is the government’s determination that it could take a month for any disruption in supply to be resolved, either due to factories returning to production or by way of importing supplies from other countries, and so they are recommending everyone keeps at least a one month supply in their homes.

Depending on your point of view, a one month supply is either a generous amount or woefully inadequate.  A lot would rest on the type of disruption to local manufacturing, of course, and if it was a broader global disruption (such as another oil shock) then even a one month supply might be exhausted long before new supplies were on hand.  Of course, this is a Level 1 type preparation only, not a Level 2 or 3.

The second interesting thing is the focus on stockpiling a month of toilet paper.  We don’t disagree with this at all, of course, but how about other things, too?  Like, ummm, water and food?  If toilet paper is liable to disruptions in supply, surely food supplies too have to be considered as being at risk of some future disruptions, and if we had to choose between no toilet paper and no food, well, that’s an easy choice, isn’t it!

Don’t get us wrong.  It is great to see a national government advocate a one month stockpile of anything, but we see this as begging the question – why do we need to maintain a one month supply of toilet paper, but not a one month supply of everything else, too?

The post Japanese Govt Urges Citizens to Stockpile One Month Toilet Paper Supply appeared first on Code Green Prep.

Water Wells and Planning for Problems

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A backup hand operated water pump is a great reassurance, but note that hand pumps can also fail.

A backup hand-operated water pump is a great reassurance, but note that hand pumps can also fail.

Many of us rely on wells for our water supply, and in such cases, we have an electric pump that lifts the water up and into a supply tank.

These pumps are usually long-lived and reliable, and draw little power (at least by present day standards where we have access to virtually unlimited electrical power at comparatively low cost).

But what happens in a future adverse scenario where first our power fails and then secondly our pump fails?  The obvious answers are backups and spares, but there are also some design issues that should be considered well before any such problems occur.

Operating Electric Pumps When Electricity is Scarce

The first problem – power failing – will hopefully be addressed by your on-site power generation needs.  One of the ‘good’ things about needing power for a water pump is that – assuming you have a reasonably sized holding tank above the well, the power your water pump needs can be time-shifted to those times of day when you have a surplus of (eg solar) power – use the power at those times to pump up water and to fill your above ground storage tank, and use the water from the storage tank at those times of day (eg night-time) when you have no free power.

Water pumps vary in terms of how much power they require, depending on the lifting height they need to bring the water, and the number of gallons per minute of water desired.  Obviously, greater heights and greater gpm rates require more power.  Fortunately, assuming moderate lifting heights and gpm requirements, you can get a lot of water from a pump that uses only 1000 or 2000 watts of power.  From an energy management point of view, you would probably prefer to have a less powerful pump running for longer, than a more powerful pump running for a shorter time.

This also allows you to get good use from a well with a low replenishment rate.  When specifying your well and water needs in the first place, you should give more importance to assured continuity of water supply at a low instantaneous flow rate but with sufficient total flow each day to meet your needs, rather than limiting yourself only to wells that can support rapid draws down of water via a high-capacity pump.

Chances are you can get the better part of a gallon of water lifted up your well and into your holding tank for every watt-hour of power – 1000 gallons per kWh if you prefer to think in those terms.

We discuss the energy costs of pumping water in this article.

So the first problem – loss of utility sourced electricity – is hopefully not a huge problem (and see below for a discussion on hand pumps).

Planning for Pump Problems

However, the second problem – pump failure – quite likely may be a big problem, and so we offer several solutions to consider.

The first solution is a very simple one.  If your water pump fails, simply replace it with a spare one that you’ve kept in storage, in anticipation of just such an event occurring, as it undoubtedly will, sooner or later.

Water pumps aren’t very expensive (probably under $500) and are fairly long-lived.  You’re unlikely to need to be replacing pumps every year, indeed, assuming that the duty cycle for the pump is moderate and appropriate, it is realistic to at least 10 – 15 years of trouble-free life.  With clean water and a light cycling rate, some pumps give up to 40 years of service.

When you do have a water pump problem, it is probably something you could – at least in theory – repair rather than fix by a complete replacement, and many of the problems actually relate to the fixtures and fittings and tanks outside the well, not the pump inside the well.  But, if it is a pump problem, and to keep things really simple, obviously a total replacement should work (assuming the problem isn’t somewhere above ground, outside of the well, in particular the electrical and control wiring that goes to the pump to turn it on and off as needed).

Depending on your level of skill, your supply of spare parts, and how long you can manage with the pump system down, repair would always be preferable to replacement, of course.  It would be a good strategy to talk to whoever installed and/or maintains your pump currently to find out what the likely failure points may be and to keep those appropriate spare parts, as well as a complete second pump assembly too.

For many of us, having a complete spare water pump would be all the protection and preparing we feel we need.

Here’s a useful but slightly muddled website with a lot of information about troubleshooting and repairing well based water systems.

A Large Temporary Holding Tank

These considerations point to a related point.  You should have a larger than normal above ground temporary tank, and keep it full to half full all the time.  Your choice of above ground holding tank should be such that you can live off the remaining half of its capacity for a reasonable number of days, if the pump does fail.  That gives you the luxury of some time in which to respond to the failed pump and get it fixed, before the toilets stop flushing and the taps stop running.

There’s a related benefit to a large temporary tank.  It means your pump doesn’t cycle as frequently.  It is the starting part of the pump’s operation that is most stressful; you’ll get much more life out of the pump by reducing its frequency of cycling on and off.

It is common for the well water to be pumped to a small pressure reservoir, and then to travel from there to the taps as needed, primarily by the force of the pressure in the reservoir.  In such cases, we suggest adding a temporary holding tank between the well and the pressure reservoir (rather than creating an enormous pressure reservoir).  We also suggest locating the holding tank as high above ground as possible, so as to reduce your dependence on the pressure reservoir.  A gravity fed system from the reservoir to your taps would be much more reliable.

Typical domestic water supplies have pressures in the order of 40 – 60 psi, sometimes a little less, and sometimes going up as high as 80 psi.

Yes, there is such a thing as too much water pressure.  We’d recommend keeping the water pressure to around the 40 – 50 psi point so as to minimize stress on taps and pipes.  Each foot of water height creates 0.43 lbs/sq in of water pressure.  So even a 40 psi service would require the water level at the top of the holding tank to be 93 ft above the tap level – this is almost certainly impractical.

There are two workarounds.  The first is to have large diameter piping and high flow rate taps.  This will compensate for the lower pressure in all situations except showers.  If you want to have good showers, you’ll need to have a pressure booster of some type, either just for the shower, or perhaps for the entire house.

The problem with holding tanks appreciably above ground level is that they are insecure.  A vandal or attacker will see the tank, and almost certainly, rifle rounds will penetrate through the tank wall and while the holes might be readily repairable, the water you lose may or may not be so easily replaceable.  Without wishing to over-engineer a solution, our preference sometimes is for two holding tanks.  A large one that is mainly underground, and then a smaller ‘day tank’ type tank that is above ground at a high up point.  That way your main holding tank is relatively secure, and your vulnerability reduced; indeed, you could even have your day tank built into the attic/inside the roof of your retreat.

Adding a Hand Pump to the Well

So far, we’ve recommended adding a large temporary holding tank, set into the ground, and a smaller ‘day tank’ located in the ceiling/attic of your retreat.  We’ve also suggested keeping a complete spare pump and some replacement spares for those parts most likely to wear out.

But wait.  There’s still more!  We’d feel more comfortable if we also had some type of hand pump, so that pretty much no matter what else happens, we can always get water.  It goes without saying that if we can’t get water to our retreat, everything else becomes irrelevant and our entire retreat becomes unlivable.  Water is an essential part of any retreat, and abundant water allows our lifestyle to move massively up the scale.

Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind our water needs probably extend way beyond what we directly personally use in our retreat.  We have agricultural needs too, for our crops and livestock.  We might even have ‘industrial’ type needs if we have any sort of manufacturing processes.  You’ll probably find a hand pump, while able to provide the essential water for living, would be inadequate to provide all the other water you might need over and above your domestic and personal needs.  Perhaps better to say – the pump may be adequate, but your supply of pumping manpower may be inadequate!

Hand pumps come in many different shapes and sizes, and come with various types of claims and promises about being easy to operate and providing so many gallons per minute of water from your pumping actions.

There are, however, two main types of hand pump (and many other types of less relevant ways of raising water too, starting with a traditional well and bucket that is lowered down to the water level and then lifted up again).

Pumps that are designed to lift water only a short height are probably suction pumps (also called pitcher pumps) – their piston is above ground, directly connected to the pump’s operating handle, and simply sucks the water up the pipe and eject it out the other end of the piston.

But suction pumps quickly become less effective when the distance the water needs to be lifted increases.  A sometimes cited rule of thumb is that suction pumps are good for about 25 ft of lifting.  At that point, a totally different type of pump comes into its own, the lift or piston pump.

pumpoperationdiagThese pumps have their operating mechanism at the far end of the pipe, down where the water is.  Each stroke of the pump handle causes the cylinder to lift another measure of water up into the pipe.  Eventually, the water has been lifted all the way to the top and comes out the spout.

These pumps can lift water hundreds of feet, but the greater the lift height, the more effort is required to lift the water, and the more stress on the cylinder’s seals and the tubing in general.

Treat all the claims of gallon per minute (gpm) outputs and ease of use of hand pumps with a grain of salt.  There are unavoidable physical laws of nature which dictate how much energy is required to lift water from your well to your holding tank, and while a hand pump can operate with a greater or lesser degree of efficiency, thereby influencing how easy/hard it is to pump the water, it can never be more than 100% efficient (and more likely, never more than perhaps 70% efficient) so you’re always going to have to put some effort into the pumping.

Adding a hand pump to your current well system is probably much easier than you’d think.  Well, it is easy now while society is still functioning; it would be much harder subsequently!

The good news is that your current well comprises a pipe that is probably 6″ in diameter, and the pipe for the electrically powered pump water that comes up is probably only 1″ – 1 1/4″ in diameter.  This leaves lots of room for more pipes, so you simply lower down an extra pipe, and mount a hand pump on the well head.

Now for a clever extra idea.  You can have the output of the hand pump go to a valve, which can direct the water either to an outlet/tap or to feed into the water line from the electric pump (through a check-valve of course).  That way, if your electric pump fails for any reason, you can still feed water into your holding tank, your pressure tank, and your household water system.  This is a bit like having a distribution panel for your electricity, allowing your house wiring to be fed from utility power, a generator, batteries, or whatever other power source you wished to use.

What sort of hand pump do you need?  Our first point is one of warning.  Hand pumps are not necessarily long-lasting just because they operate by hand rather than by electricity.  We’ve heard of people having their hand pumps fail on them after less than a year of moderately light use.  In alphabetical order, we’re aware of Baker Monitor, Bison, Flojak, Simple Pump and Waterbuck Pump brands.  You might also find used Hitzer pumps out there, but after some years of struggling, the company finally liquidated a short while ago this year (2014).

There are other brands as well, but we’ve not uncovered as much information on them so hesitate to mention them.  We’ve not experimented with all the different makes and models of hand pumps, and hesitate to make a recommendation.  We suggest you speak to a couple of different well digging and maintaining companies and see what they recommend, and roam around online user forums and see what type of feedback the different makes and models of pumps are getting from bona fide users.

The Waterbuck product seems impressive, but we don’t fully understand exactly what it is or how it has the apparent advantage and extra efficiency it claims.  It seems to still be a fairly new to market product – maybe by the time you read this there is more feedback from people who have been using it for a while and who can comment accordingly.

aermotorbWindmill Powered Pumps

If you are fortunate enough to be somewhere with a reasonable amount of wind, maybe you can supplement your water supply with a windmill.

The classic American windmill can provide a reliable regular supply of water, ideally into a reasonably sized holding tank so as to buffer the differences in supply and demand as between the vagaries of wind powered pumping and the water draws for your various requirements.

Windmill powered pumps can lift water up to almost 1000 ft, and the more powerful pumps can lift up to 1000 gallons per hour (albeit more moderate heights).

Windmills can therefore work well, even as primary water supply pumps, just as long as there is a reasonable amount of wind to drive them.

Well Depth Issues

There’s no avoiding gravity.  The deeper you have to drill for water, the more hassle it becomes to then lift the water up to the surface and on into your retreat, the more energy it requires, and the more stressed every part of the pumping process becomes.

It would be time and money very well spent to explore widely around your retreat property to find the best location for the shallowest well.  A well digger can probably tell you fairly quickly, based on logs from past drilling projects in your area, what the typical well depths might be and if there’s likely to be much variation in the distance down to the water table around your property.

It is massively less costly, from an energy point of view, to run a water line horizontally across your property than it is to dig down in the first place.  Our point here is that if you had to choose between a 50 ft well, half a mile away, and a 200 ft well, right next to your retreat, we’d probably choose the 50 ft well (assuming there were no other risks or negative factors associated with then running half a mile of pipe from the well head to your retreat).

Best of all, of course, would be to do both wells, giving you another element of redundancy and assuredness of water supply.

Summary

Typical well water supplies have water feeding from a well to a relatively small and pressurized reservoir and then from there to the household plumbing.

We suggest a better design for a prepper has the well feeding to a holding tank, of sufficient size to store several days of water.  The well pump should be configured to deliver water infrequently with fewer starts and stops, making it less stressed and therefore more reliable and longer lived.  A second system then feeds from the holding tank to a pressurized reservoir and into the house.  This makes it easier to troubleshoot your water supply system and, in the event of the well pump failure, gives you some time to fix the pump before running low on pumped water on hand.

In addition to the electric well pump, you should have a second pump line going down your well tube, with a hand-operated pump at the top.  The pump should also feed into your main holding tank supply, plus have the ability to have water drawn direct from the pump itself.

Lastly, a backup system to feed water from the holding tank to your retreat would make sense also.

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Does Your Retreat Need Two – or Even Three – Root Cellars?

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This lovely large root cellar dates back to the mid 1800s and is underneath a farmhouse in Lancaster, PA.

This lovely large root cellar dates back to the mid 1800s and is underneath a farmhouse in Lancaster, PA.

Many people add a root cellar to their retreat.  This is good, but if you are not careful with what you store in your root cellar, the gases (notably ethylene) given off by some stored fruit and vegetables may interfere with the longevity of other stored fruit and vegetable items.

In addition, some items give off strong odors which could contaminate other stored produce.  And some produce prefers warmer or cooler temperatures, and greater or lesser amounts of humidity, than others.

So maybe you potentially need multiple root cellars – or at least some barriers or partitions across your single root cellar.

Let’s first consider root cellars in general, then look at why you should have more than one – and/or how to avoid needing to have multiple cellars.

What is a Root Cellar

Root cellars have been used in the US pretty much from the days of the first settlers, and are thought to date back to the 1600s in Britain (in the ‘modern’ form of being a walk in cellar).  They are not experimental or innovative – they have truly withstood the test of time over many centuries.

A root cellar doesn’t actually need to be underground.   Many are actually above ground.  And the term ‘root’ doesn’t necessarily mean either something down among the tree roots (that would be a mistake, keep well away from tree roots) nor does it mean a cellar only intended for root vegetables.  So it is a bit of a misnomer.

If we had to come up with the absolute essence of what a root cellar is, the answer would probably be ‘a naturally cooled dark space with stable low temperature and high humidity for storing food in an optimum environment to enhance its storage life’.

More specifically, root cellars aim for a temperature range ideally between 32º and 40º F, and a humidity in the range of 85% – 95%.  The cool temperature and high humidity greatly reduces the moisture loss from stored food items, and the low temperature also slows down the rate of micro-organism growth and related decomposition processes.  Not all root cellars manage to get down to these temperatures (or up to these humidities), nor maintain them for much of the year, but that doesn’t completely matter.  The cooler the better, and even if you are ‘only’ in the low 50s, you are still getting longer life than if you had your produce in your main retreat at room temperature.

Root cellars went out of fashion when at-home refrigerators became widely used, and as part of a general trend to city living with nearby supermarkets that carried fresh food year-round.  In that context, there’s little need for a root cellar any more, but if the assumptions of convenient home refrigeration and ever-present fresh food in a nearby supermarket start to fail, then a low-tech way to store food becomes helpful once more.

Note that while most people associate root cellars with the storage of fruit and vegetables, there is no reason not to use your cellar to store anything else that likes a cool dark environment.  Cured meats, cheeses, fresh milk, and beverages in general could also be kept in a root cellar if space allowed, as can dried goods such as grains and nuts.

Three Types of Root Cellar

There are basically three ways to build a root cellar.  The first is the most obvious.  Dig.  Start in the basement of your current house or retreat, and just dig down and out until you’ve created sufficient cellar space.  Note that the classic size for a root cellar seems to be about 8′ x 8′ x 8′, but there’s no reason not to make a cellar larger or smaller, but note that the larger you make a cellar, the more the ratio between the volume of the cellar and the surface area of its sides will change, affecting the cellar’s ability to naturally heat/cool the cellar contents.

So, perhaps, it is best not to build a huge cavernous cellar, although the chances are you weren’t planning to do that anyway!

The second approach can sometimes be easier.  Instead of digging down vertically, you dig ‘in’ horizontally, going into the side of a hill.  The net result is the same, while the excavation process might be simpler.

The third approach involves some lateral thinking.  Instead of going down into the ground, bring the ground up to you.  Create an above ground structure, or perhaps a slightly sunken structure, then layer sod over the top of it.

If you are building an external above ground cellar, you want to have it as much as possible in the shade – ie with little direct southerly exposure, and in particular, you don’t want the doorway (which is probably the least insulated part of the structure) to be in direct view of the sun.

How to Create and Maintain the Cellar Environment Needed

Depending on where you live, you’ll probably need your cellar to do two opposite things.  In the summer, you want it to be cooler than the warm/hot outside temperatures, but in the winter, you want it to be warmer than the below-freezing temperatures outside.

The best way to do this is by either digging deep into the ground, or covering an above ground structure with a lot of sod.  Even a foot of dirt provides substantial insulation and will allow for as much as a 20º temperature differential between the cellar and the outside, but the chances are you’ll want more than this, so you need both more dirt ‘insulation’ and also the ability to ‘suck heat’ out of the cellar if too hot, and ‘pour heat’ into the cellar if too cold.  This requires a lot more dirt, and the dirt changes from merely being insulation to becoming a ‘heat sink’.

The first few feet of soil tend to seasonally vary a bit in temperature, but by the time you get down 10 ft or so (or ‘in’ a similar distance if digging into a hillside) you are then in a region where the soil temperature remains more or less unchanging, year-round and there’s no point in going any deeper.  As long as you don’t stress the soil around your cellar by introducing too much heat or cold – more than the soil can absorb/conduct away – the walls, floor and even ceiling of your cellar will all act as ‘automatic’ heat sinks, helping maintain a reasonably steady temperature inside the cellar.

Having said that, although the walls will stay much the same in temperature, it is probable there will be some variations in temperature inside the cellar itself, because the ability of the walls to soak up or give off heat is not very great, and outside factors such as the air temperature coming in can overwhelm the natural heat stabilizing of the walls.  A good cellar will keep temperatures above freezing in the winter, and perhaps 40º below outside temperatures in the summer.

The air flow in the summer will obviously have much warmer air coming in from outside than in winter.  You can moderate this a bit by having a ‘solar heater’ that you can attach to the air intake during the winter (nothing fancier than simply using a black painted inlet that the sun can shine on and warm up) and take off during the summer.  During the winter, have most of your airflow when the sun is shining on the inlet, and least during the cold of the night.  The opposite would apply for the summer, with little air flow in the hottest times of the day and more airflow in the coolest times of the evening.

You can also use evaporative cooling in the summer, with the air flow into the cellar passing over a wet cloth.  This helps to cool the air down and also increase its humidity at the same time.

In an ’emergency’ some people provide some gentle heating by simply leaving an incandescent light on in the cellar, while making sure that its light doesn’t harm any of the stored produce.  An incandescent light converts nearly all its rated power to heat, so if you wanted a mild 60 – 100 watt heating element, a light bulb would be the easiest approach.

One more thing about temperature.  By the time midsummer and the hottest temperatures come along, you’ll probably have emptied your root cellar from the last season’s stored foods, and so it won’t matter so much if it warms up a bit then, although you want to always keep temperatures as close to optimum as possible so as not to cause a gradual build-up of heat in the dirt walls.

You also want to have a high humidity.  Again, the ‘magic’ of a root cellar is that the water contained within the dirt walls and floor and ceiling will ‘automatically’ release moisture to keep a high humidity – assuming you don’t overload the ability of the cellar to maintain its humidity by creating too many air changes and therefore removals of moisture/humidity as part of that.

If you need to increase the humidity, you can simply spray water onto the walls, floor and perhaps ceiling of your cellar.  If you need to decrease the humidity, the usual solution is to increase the air flow, but that may cause other problems if the outside air is very hot or very cold, so don’t get too carried away with spraying extra water.

So as to get the most direct impact from the dirt, it is best not to line your cellar any more than might be essential, although it seems that most of the cellars we see these days are at least partially lined – perhaps because it looks ‘cleaner’ and ‘nicer’, even if it harms the cellar’s functionality!  If you are lining the cellar at all, make sure to use materials that won’t be harmed by the moisture – the moisture in the soil and the moisture within the cellar.

Shelving in the cellar is traditionally made of wood rather than metal.  The wood itself changes temperature slowly, adding further to the thermal inertia.  If you are using wood, we recommend you do not use treated wood (due to the poisonous chemicals in it) but rather choose wood that is least likely to rot in moist conditions (such as cedar).  Bricks and concrete blocks can also be used for part of your shelf construction – these are odorless and last a long time in damp conditions.

Shelving should be as open as possible, and set back from the walls, so as to allow for air flow everywhere.  This will keep down the growth of mold.  Be careful also when stacking produce so as to allow air to flow through the produce, and generally it is best not to store anything directly on the ground.

One other aspect of your cellar – you want it to be normally dark.  Light is an energy source which variously activates the sprouting of some produce and encourages the growth of undesirable organisms.  Keep the cellar dark except for when you visit it.

The cellar does need some fresh air flow, however.  There’s a trick to this to create a natural air flow without needing as much machinery.  You should have an air entry on one side of the cellar and an air exit on the other side, so air flows between them.

Now for the clever part.  Your air entry inlet should come in from outside and open at close to the floor level.  The air exit outlet should start at a point close to the ceiling.  This means the hotter air in the cellar will naturally rise up and out the exit, sucking in replacement fresh air from outside, where it will land in the cooler lower parts of the cellar, before gradually warming and then exiting again.

Of course, both the inlet and outlet need to have dampers on them so you can regulate the flow of air.  They also need screens so that rodents can’t enter your cellar through the air vents.

There is always a temperature gradient within your cellar, perhaps of 5º, maybe even 10º, as between its floor and ceiling.  You should keep that in mind when deciding where in the cellar to locate the various different produce items you’ll be storing.  Onions, garlic and shallots are probably the most temperature tolerant things you might be storing, so put them on upper shelves.

Visiting Your Cellar

We suggest you limit your visits to your cellar to no more than one a day.  If you’re struggling to keep the temperature optimized, you might even cut back on your visits to once every two or three days.  The less you stress your cellar with unwanted adverse changes of air and introduction/escape of heat and moisture, then of course the better it will perform.

This should not be a problem if you accept the discipline and requirement of moving things in/out of the cellar no more than once a day.  Surely it is easy to transfer produce from the cellar to a convenient at-hand storage facility elsewhere in your retreat on an occasional basis, and then whenever needed, take from the at-hand facility.  And, when replenishing, you can build up a pile of new produce immediately outside the cellar, and at the end of a day’s harvesting, then move everything in to the cellar all together.

If this is a problem, and if you’re struggling with maintaining a suitable cellar temperature, you might want to consider making the entrance into an ‘airlock’ type double door arrangement so as to cut down further on the environmental impact in the cellar every time you open the door.

You should carefully monitor your cellar’s temperature and humidity, and you will need to adjust the ventilation going in/out of the cellar to keep the temperature optimized.  We suggest you either have thermometers and hygrometers visible through an inspection window, or alternatively, if using electronic sensors, of course these can display remotely, anywhere in your retreat you wish.

The vent adjusters should either be routed mechanically to a point outside the cellar where you can open/close them, or else be operated by remote-controlled servo-motors.

Oh yes, please also remember to keep the light switched off in the cellar when you’re not present.

Do You Need Multiple Cellars?

There are two major concerns that some people feel can justify either the creation of multiple cellars or at least partitioning off one single cellar.

The first of these is that some things – apples, peaches, pears, plums, cabbage and tomatoes in particular – emit ethylene gas while stored.  Unfortunately, the released ethylene harms produce – even the produce that releases the ethylene in the first place!  So you need to keep the ethylene releasing produce as separate as possible from other produce, especially the root veges, and well ventilated to protect it from itself.

That’s the hint that can suggest how you could manage with one cellar instead of two.  Put the ethylene emitting items close to the exit vent so the ethylene mainly gets swept up and exhausted out of the cellar, while keeping the root vegetables in the other corner, and closer to the air inlet.  This keeps the ethylene away from other produce, and also vents it away from the emitting produce too.

The other main issue is odor control.  Some things – turnips, for example, or cabbage – give off odors that would get absorbed into other items if stored close to each other.  One solution is not to grow and store turnips and cabbage!

Another solution is again to put the smelly stuff closer to the air exhaust outlet, and to keep the more sensitive produce far away.

So you are probably correctly now sensing that managing ventilation is an essential part of having a successful root cellar.

There is another consideration as well that might influence whether you have one or two root cellars.  Different produce items are best stored at different temperatures, and if you had sufficient fine control over your root cellar temperature as to be able to ensure one cellar was (say) 10º different to the other, and if you had a range of produce items that could benefit from this temperature differential, then having multiple cellars might make sense.

But unless you’re going to be supplementing your natural heating/cooling with artificial heating/cooling, you’d probably find that two root cellars would have very close to the same temperature.  The better approach to temperature management is simply to stratify the location of your produce, keeping in mind that the higher up in your cellar, the warmer it will be.

So, for most of us, we can probably get by with ‘just’ a single root cellar, but keep these issues in mind when deciding where to locate the produce within it.

For Further Information

This article, although spanning over 3000 words, only lightly touches on the topic of root cellars.

Unless there is a reason why a root cellar would be impossible (ie, you are an apartment dweller with no plans to have any sort of land or rural retreat) you should definitely add a root cellar to your retreat and so it is an important topic to understand and get right.  A root cellar is a wonderful and energy-efficient way to store many different types of produce, giving you well-preserved food long out of season, without any need for the hassle and energy costs of boiling, blanching, bottling, canning or freezing.

To learn more, you can certainly roam via Google to other articles on root cellars, but can we modestly say that you’re not likely to find much more than you’ve already read here.  The best thing to do is to get a copy of the definitive book on the subject – Root Cellaring :  Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables, by Mike and Nancy Bubel.  This 320 page book not only covers cellar design and construction, it also guides you in the choice of produce to store in your root cellar, and even tells you when to harvest and store the items you grow.

Amazon sells the book both as a Kindle eBook and in regular print.  It is better, if buying the regular print edition, to ensure you are getting the latest edition – not the original 1979, but the second 1991 edition.  For about $10, this is an excellent investment.

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